No military action on Libya without UN mandate

Filed on March 1, 2011

PARIS — France said Tuesday that there would be no international military action against Libya, including the imposition of a no-fly zone, without a “clear mandate” from the United Nations.

“At the moment I am talking to you, no military intervention is expected,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told the French parliament hours after taking up his new job after transferring from the defence ministry.

“Different options are being studied — notably that of an air exclusion zone — but I say very clearly that no intervention will be undertaken without a clear mandate from the United Nations Security Council.”

Juppe’s statement distanced France at least rhetorically from Britain and the United States, which on Tuesday ramped up pressure on Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi by pushing for a no-fly zone to be imposed quickly.

“It is not acceptable to have a situation where Colonel Gaddafi can be murdering his own people, using aeroplanes and helicopter gunships and the like,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“We have to plan now to make sure that if it happens we can do something to stop it. It’s right for us to plan and look at plans for a no-fly zone.”

Susan Rice, Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, told NBC news: “We are going to squeeze him economically in conjunction with the rest of the economic community. We’ll squeeze him militarily.”

France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Monday that Paris was in talks with allies about a possible air embargo to stop a beleaguered Gaddafi from bombing his own citizens, many of whom are in revolt against him.

But he said that France could not act without its NATO allies and said that the UN Security Council would be consulted before any action was taken.

Top US commander General James Mattis warned the US Senate on Tuesday that forcing a no-fly zone over Libya would first require a military operation to destroy the country’s air defence systems.

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