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Talks on no-fly zone in Libya very preliminary: India

March 09, 2011 08:40 IST
Despite a strong call for establishing a no-fly zone in Libya by Britain, deliberations on the measure were still "very preliminary", according to a top Indian envoy in United Nations, who stressed that key questions like "objective" and "assets" remain unanswered.

"Consideration for imposing a new-fly zone is still at a very preliminary stage," Hardeep Singh Puri, India's ambassador to the UN told PTI.

"There has been some mention but without clarity on what the objective would be. There is even less clarity on whether assets of imposing a no-fly zone would come from," he said, stressing that no "formal proposal" was in front of the Security Council yet.

Britain and France are preparing a draft resolution on a potential no-fly zone in the strife-torn North African nation.

"It is a realistic possibility and it is a practical possibility. It has to have a clear legal base, it has to have the necessary international support, broad support in the region itself, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague had said.

The Security Council was briefed on Tuesday on Middle East and North Africa in a closed-door session by the UN's top political official Lynn Pascoe. "As we see in the battles that have been going on, clear actions are being taken against the people there, both in Tripoli and other cities," he told journalists after the meeting. "This is a matter of huge concern for all of us in the secretariat, certainly for the Security Council," he added.  

Responding to whether a no-fly zone was discussed at the meeting, Pascoe said it was among the several issues that were part of a "serious and interactive discussion" on the role of the Security Council and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office in face of the Libyan crisis.

Last month, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution slapping sanctions on the Libyan regime, which includes a complete arms embargo, an asset freeze and a travel ban on strongman Muammar Gaddafi and his loyalists, and a referral to the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

United States President Barack Obama had on Tuesday discussed about the creation of a no-fly zone with United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron during a telephonic conversation. The two leaders "agreed to press forward with planning, including at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, on the full spectrum of possible responses, including surveillance, humanitarian assistance, enforcement of the arms embargo, and a no fly zone," a statement from the White House said.

Puri, however, said, "It is clear to most people that implementing a new fly zone would involve military action including neutralising ground installations such as air defence systems like radars. This would be viewed as military intervention." The Indian envoy noted that the meetings of the Arab League on Saturday "would be critical for firming opinion" on the no-fly zone issue.

"The no-fly zone is now the objective of the international community," Arab League envoy to the US Hussein Hassouna said.

The UN is set to take a stand on the issue next week, while NATO has already launched a 24-hour air and sea surveillance of Libya.
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