Britain wooing Arab states

2011-03-22 17:00
London - Britain is talking to Arab nations in a bid to "develop" the military coalition arrayed against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces, a spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary William Hague briefed the cabinet on efforts to boost the coalition, which is led by the United States, France and Britain and includes some other Western states and Arab country Qatar, said the spokesperson.

Asked if there had been any progress on drawing in other Arab countries, he told reporters: "That's something the foreign secretary referred to in cabinet.

"He was talking about continued efforts to develop and maintain that coalition of countries, which was what the prime minister was talking about yesterday [in parliament].

"And I think there is a lot of activity in the Foreign Office to ensure that happens."

The cabinet was "completely unified" behind the military action, he added.

The coalition is acting under a UN Security Council resolution authorising all necessary means to stop Gaddafi's forces harming civilians as they battle the rebellion against the Libyan leader's four-decade rule.

There is co-ordination but no unified command, and moves to hand control of the operation to Nato are dividing the alliance.

France is warning that Nato control could scare off Arab countries while Turkey has ruled out any involvement.

Cameron's spokesperson said Nato ambassadors were due to resume talks on Tuesday in Brussels but added that Britain still wanted "to see the machinery of Nato used to co-ordinate the military operation".

The British premier is, meanwhile, due to meet the visiting Saudi Arabian foreign minister in London later on Tuesday.

Cameron's spokesperson said the Saudis were "supportive" of the military action against Libya but gave no further details.

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