Wednesday, March 23, 2011

NATO fails to agree on Libya control

Italian fighter jets fly over the Birgi NATO Airbase in Trapani on the southern Italian island of Sicily March 23

Source: Press TV

NATO members have again failed to reach an agreement on giving the Western alliance command of military operations against Libya.

Ambassadors of the 28-nation NATO alliance ended their third day of meetings in Brussels with "no decision on anything," a senior NATO diplomat told Reuters.

As the US is eager to hand over command to NATO within days, Turkey says it does not want the Western alliance to take responsibility for military offensive against Libya.

"It would be impossible for us to share responsibility in an operation that some authorities have described as a 'crusade,'" Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara.

There are fears that enforcing the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya could cause civilian casualties as US-led coalition aircraft are simultaneously bombing Libyan forces since Saturday.

Turkey says the air strikes carried out by US-led coalition has already gone beyond the scope of last week's UN Security Council resolution.

During a visit to Egypt, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Obama administration does not want the US to keep command of the operation for "more than a week or so."

US, European and Arab and African officials have been invited to London next week for political talks about Libya, French and British officials said.

NATO warships on Wednesday began patrolling off Libya's coast to enforce the UN arms embargo against the north African country as US-led coalition continue bombardment of Gaddafi forces in Tripoli and other Libyan cities.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the move was to “cut off the flow of arms and mercenaries,” into Libya.

Six warships were involved in the mission in the first day as 16 ships have been offered by NATO members. Turkey, the organization's sole Muslim member, will send five warships to join the operation.

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