EU calls emergency meeting on Libya

2011-03-03 12:58

European Union foreign ministers were today summoned to an extraordinary meeting on Libya in Brussels on March 10, the latest in a packed series of talks next week on the turmoil.

As the EU shifts into top gear on Libya, the office of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the meeting of the 27 ministers would be held as “a working lunch”.

The informal talks will “assess ongoing developments in Libya and the wider region” and prepare for an extraordinary EU summit called for the next day, March 11, a statement said.

The Friday crisis summit of heads of state and government aims to seek a joint response on the turmoil in Libya while thrashing out a new common policy for the future towards Arab states on Europe’s southern flank.

Also in town, as the debate continues over whether there should be a military response to Muammar Gaddafi, will be defence ministers from the 28-member NATO military alliance.

Yesterday leading EU figures urged defiant Gaddafi to quit.

“It is time for him to go and give the country back to the people of Libya,” said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

“The situation we are seeing in Libya is simply atrocious and we cannot accept it,” said the head of the 27-nation EU’s executive arm.

Ashton also stepped up the rhetoric, after Gaddafi, who seized power in a 1969 coup, warned “thousands” would die if the West intervened to support the uprising against him.

“I join with those who tell Colonel Gaddafi to stand aside,” she said after talks with deputy British premier Nick Clegg.

Clegg also said that long-term, EU policies towards its north African neighbourhood need “revamped from top to toe”.

The EU has dispatched its crisis aid chief to oversee help to the cold and hungry refugees from Libya massing on the borders with Tunisia and Egypt, while tripling crisis funding from €3 million (about R28 million) to €10 million.

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