Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Split over Libya war widens in NATO

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini

Source: Press TV

Split over Libya war has widened among the NATO member states, with Italy calling for a ceasefire and a humanitarian pause in the ongoing strikes on the North African country.

“The need to look for a ceasefire has become more pressing,” Reuters quoted Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini as saying on Wednesday while speaking to the lower house of the Italian parliament.

“As well as the ceasefire, which is the first stage toward a political negotiation, a humanitarian stop to military action is fundamental to allow immediate humanitarian aid,” Frattini added.

Frattini's comments are important as Italy provides most of the land bases for NATO's bombing missions, the command center, as well as several aircraft for the strike operations.

Britain and France have voiced opposition to Italy's proposal. British Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said “the right approach at the present time is to increase the pressure” on Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said they should continue to increase pressure on Gaddafi, stating that any pause in the mission would give Gaddafi the chance to reorganize himself.

Calls for a ceasefire have been made as NATO operations have reached a stalemate. Scores of civilians have recently been killed in the airstrikes by NATO warplanes.

Chairman of the African Union Commission Jean Ping said on Wednesday that promoting a ceasefire would be the only way for resolving the deadlock in Libya.

Outgoing Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa condemned the killing of civilians in NATO attacks. He called for a “genuine ceasefire under international supervision.”

At least 15 civilians were killed after several NATO missiles hit civilian houses in Sorman, west of the capital Tripoli, Libyan officials said.

On Sunday, NATO acknowledged civilian casualties in a strike in Tripoli. Libyan officials said at least nine people were killed after NATO jets attacked a residential area in Tripoli in the early hours of Sunday.

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