POLITICS

NATO discusses the future of Libya military operations

The meeting in Berlin was aimed at getting the European nations, especially Germany, to boost pressure on Gaddafi to leave. Rebels report 23 dead.

Combined reports
BERLIN/ SANYA/ CAIRO – NATO’s secretary general told a high-profile summit in Berlin yesterday it needs “a few more” fighter jets for its Libya mission, but has received no offers from allies yet., the BBC informs. The meeting, attended by NATO foreign ministers including Romanian Teodor Baconschi, was called to give a more focused direction on the military operation in Libya.

In his opening address Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen focused on concerns for Libyan civilians, the BBC informs. He said the alliance was “acting with care and precision to maximise the effects of our actions, while minimising the danger to citizens”. On Wednesday US Secre­tary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended the meeting in Berlin, condemned the “continued brutal attacks on the Libyan people” by Col Gaddafi’s forces.

The US has scaled back its role in Libya, though on Wednesday it said its jets were still carrying out bombing raids on Libya’s air defences to enforce the no-fly zone.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reiterated Moscow’s view that the UN resolution on Libya did not authorise the use of force. He was speaking at a meeting of the “Brics” group of five emerging nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. After the meeting in China, the five said they shared “the principle that the use of force should be avoided”. The Libya conflict was also being discussed yesterday by officials from the African Union and Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Cairo. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Arab League head Amr Moussa were among those attending.

A day earlier, in Doha, delegates representing Arab and African nations and NATO coalesced behind the Libyan rebels, promising more humanitarian aid and money channeled through a temporary trust fund of sorts. Members of what is called the Libya Contact Group agreed that a temporary financial mechanism could provide a way to get money to the Libyan opposition. Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, deputy chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council, the country’s opposition body, said Wednesday night that international delegates had agreed to make the funds available. Ghoga said more than USD 100 billion in regime funds would be unfrozen and made available to the opposition, though he did not say which country or countries would release the funds, or when. He also said rebels requested that NATO intensify its airstrikes and protection of the civilian population. Meanwhile fighting was continuing in rebel-held city of Misrata which has been besieged by pro-Gaddafi forces for almost two months.

A rebel spokesman said that an early morning rocket attack by Col Gaddafi’s forces had killed 23 people on Thursday. In a BBC interview, Hardi, a rebel leader in the city, urged NATO to carry out more strikes.

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