Clinton says Libya no-fly zone should not be U.S.-led

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 3:07 PM
Clinton says Libya no-fly zone should not be U.S.-led

LONDON (Reuters) - Any no-fly zone over Libya must have international backing and not be a U.S.-led effort, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

"We want to see the international community support it," she told Sky News when asked about a no-fly zone over Libya.

"I think it's very important that this not be a U.S.-led effort because this comes from the people of Libya themselves. This doesn't come from the outside, this doesn't come from some Western power or some Gulf country saying 'This is what you should do'," she said.

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are trying to suppress a revolt against his 41-year rule.

Clinton said the crisis could be protracted.

"We've called for Colonel Gaddafi to leave. We believe that he has totally given up any legitimacy to power. When a leader turns against his own people, that is the end. But we know that there is a long road ahead for being able to try to resolve this.

"We'd like to see this resolved peacefully. We would like to see him (Gaddafi) go peacefully. We would like to see a new government come peacefully," Clinton said.

"But if that's not possible, then we are going to work with the international community. Now there are countries that do not agree with that and we think it's important that the United Nations make this decision, not the United States. So far the United Nations has not done that," she said.

Asked about the possibility of lifting a recently imposed arms embargo on Libya and supporting the rebels, Clinton said:

"Everything is being looked at. It is difficult in the midst of this civil conflict that's going on now to even know how you would do that, because right now it's not clear what part of the country is actually under rebel control."

Britain and France are working on a U.N. Security Council resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya which they could put forward if they believed conditions warranted it.

But Western allies still appear divided over the wisdom of a no-fly zone and how it would be implemented, and there are doubts over whether China and Russia would support a Security Council resolution authorizing such a zone.

Pressed on whether the United States would support a no-fly zone, Clinton said: "We are going to support the efforts that are being made because we think that the people of Libya themselves have to be supported and we know how difficult this struggle is."

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed in a telephone call on Tuesday to press forward with planning on a range of possible responses to the Libyan crisis, including a no-fly zone, the White House said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier on Tuesday that a no-fly zone would have to have "a clear legal basis, a demonstrable need and strong international support."

(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova and Adrian Croft; editing by Janet Lawrence)