Sarkozy defends Libya campaign

2011-06-24 16:09

Brussels - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday shrugged off criticism of the Nato-led campaign in Libya, saying the Western alliance should stay put until Muammar Gaddafi departs.

As some alliance members pull out due to lack of assets, and Nato faces flak over the first civilian casualties in its three-month campaign, Sarkozy instead said at the close of a European Union summit that the campaign was making steady progress.

While sceptics had feared the campaign would get bogged down in the face of a counter-offensive by Gaddafi loyalists, "everyone can see Gaddafi's forces are retreating everywhere", he told a news conference.

"There is a general uprising of the population," he added. "There is progress."

"We will continue until Gaddafi's departure."

Meanwhile Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose foreign minister urged a halt in hostilities after Nato strikes last weekend claimed civilian lives, echoed that the campaign was squeezing Gaddafi's grip on power.

"Gaddafi is increasingly isolated," Berlusconi said. "He has been abandoned. No one can risk a forecast as to when he will leave power."

Intervention 'saved lives'

Amid mounting questions as to how the campaign will last and how much it might cost, Sarkozy said "the reason we're not moving faster is that we don't want mistakes".

Just days after Nato admitted misfires which Tripoli says caused several deaths, including toddlers, Sarkozy said: "If we hadn't intervened there would be tens of thousands of deaths."

Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini this week called for a suspension in the campaign in the latest sign of dissent within Nato as Gaddafi shows no signs of quitting.

"We have seen the effects of the crisis and therefore also of Nato action not only in eastern and southwestern regions but also in Tripoli," Frattini told a parliamentary committee meeting.

"I believe an immediate humanitarian suspension of hostilities is required in order to create effective humanitarian corridors," while negotiations should also continue on a more formal ceasefire and peace talks, he said.

Frattini warned there were "extremely grave humanitarian needs in many parts of the country" including cities in the west of Libya and said that a pause in the fighting should be "indicated as a feasible solution".

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance had conducted over 5 000 sorties. "As our record shows we have taken utmost care to minimise the risk of civilian casualties and we continue to do that every day and every hour."

  • rordnas - 2011-06-25 12:55

    "..In addition, he has used his oil wealth to fund the African Union to the detriment of Sarkozy’s NATO/US neo-con-inspired Mediterranean Union and encouraged it to be as independent as possible of the West. Much of the huge sums of money seized by the western nations during this war was intended to fund initiatives in Africa. He has also funded an independent African satellite telephone system with a view to reducing the cost of telephone calls in Africa from the highest in the world. This has allegedly cost European companies 500 million Euros a year in revenues. He has considered nationalising the oil industry and renegotiated contracts. Perhaps worst of all he has proposed a new all-Africa currency backed by gold and threatened to demand payment for oil in it rather than the dollar. This would have seriously embarrassed the already rickety United States dollar regime, but also the currency in former French West Africa the CFA Franc linked to the French Franc.." Read more:

  • Kerry - 2011-06-27 12:12

    That is not a bill that someone should be passing now … to take permission or not … to fund or not … the bill that should be passed right now collectively with all nations is “NO MORE WARS FOR MONEY”. That’s the bill they should pass right now. This bill should imply that the warring nations … this is the nations that are bombing the country should not in any way get involved in any kind of direct or indirect financial transactions with the victim country. That’s what we should fight for now … that’s the bill they should pass now. After seeing what they have done in Ruka … what is stopping us from bringing about such a resolution? Common sense!? Read more:

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