UN starts talks to lift Libya no-fly zone

AP News
Posted: Oct 21, 2011 9:17 PM
UN starts talks to lift Libya no-fly zone

Russia is proposing that the U.N. Security Council lift the no-fly zone it imposed on Libya and end its authorization of military action to protect civilians now that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been killed.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after closed council consultations Friday evening that he had circulated a draft resolution on the matter among the group's 15 members.

Although NATO earlier Friday said it would start winding down its operation in Libya, Churkin said it was up to the council to end the legal authorization for the international military action it passed earlier this year.

"Since it was the decision of the Security Council of the United Nations to impose the no-fly zone, it should be the decision of the Security Council of the United Nations to lift it," the Russian ambassador said.

NATO made a preliminary decision to end its seven-month bombing campaign on Oct. 31 and will make the formal decision next week, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting of the alliance's governing body, the North Atlantic Council.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud and British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said more consultation with Libyan authorities is needed to ensure a smooth transfer of air traffic control to civilian officials.

"We share the view that we are now in the phasing out of the operation," Araud said after the council meeting. "It's technical, we have to work with Libyan authorities. We have to do it properly."

Lyall Grant said his country earlier in the day had consulted with Libyan authorities, who "made clear they didn't want a premature ending of the military authorization. So we want to proceed in a more measured way."

The British ambassador to the U.N. said he expected the matter to come before the full council for a vote around the middle of next week.

Russia, Britain and France are all permanent, veto-wielding council members, along with the U.S. and China.