Libya: US, France agree on NATO role

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pretoria - Loud explosions and intensive anti-aircraft fire were heard in Tripoli Tuesday, as the United States and France agreed on the role of NATO in the Western-led coalition's military actions in the North African country.

On Tuesday, French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle reportedly set a reconnaissance operation in motion in Libya earlier in the day, and two Rafale jets conducted the mission with one sending back visual information of Libya and the other escorting the former's flight.

Also on Tuesday, the US Africa Command, based in Germany, confirmed that a US F-15E fighter jet crashed Monday afternoon some 40km southwest of Benghazi in east Libya due to a malfunction.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his US counterpart Barack Obama agreed on Tuesday on how to use NATO's command structure to support the military operation in Libya. 

The two leaders exchanged ideas over the situation in Libya in a telephone call from Obama, and agreed "on the need to continue efforts to ensure the full implementation of (UN) resolutions 1970 and 1973."

French leaders said that although NATO support was necessary in the Western-led military action against Libya, its role should be limited as the intervention was a European-centric operation.

"For us, this operation ... is conducted by a coalition of states, not all of which are members of the Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said earlier, adding "it's not an operation of NATO, even though it must be supported by means of military planning and intervention of the (NATO) Alliance."

While the West was busy creating a new body to take over the lead in its current intervention in Libya, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi made his first public appearance in a week near Tripoli late Tuesday, vowing to fight on. 

"Be it long or short, we're ready for battle," he said in a short live address to his supporters." 
Meanwhile, the Arab League representatives, have met in Cairo, to discuss a wave of unrest that's recently taken over the region. 

Oman's permanent representative, who chaired the meeting, had this to say on the scope and support of the operation in Libya.

He said, "In this respect, those who attended have reiterated their support of the U.N. Security Council Resolution concerning Libya, number 1973, with the provision that there should be no overstepping the boundaries of that resolution, especially where it concerns injuring civilians.

"And reaffirming that there should be no foreign intervention in Libya, and the necessity to safeguard the integrity of the Libyan territory."