Arming Libyan rebels an option: UK's Hague

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 10:26 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - International powers should consider arming Libyan rebels and need to take swift action to prevent Muammar Gaddafi's forces from crushing an insurrection, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday.

He said it would be a nightmare for Libya's people if Gaddafi remained in power and that "a point of decision" was looming for meaningful international intervention.

Britain and France have been pushing for the imposition of a no-fly zone to shield Libyans from Gaddafi's air power.

Malcolm Rifkind, a former foreign and defense secretary from Hague's Conservative party, wrote in The Times newspaper on Monday that it was time for the West to arm the Libyan rebels.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Hague said an international arms embargo on Libya was a hurdle to arming the rebels, but that Rifkind made a good case.

"This is the kind of subject which has to be discussed with our international partners and those discussions are now taking place," Hague said.

He will attend a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Paris on Monday to examine options for Libya after rebel efforts to end Gaddafi's four-decade rule appeared to falter.

"If Gaddafi went on to be able to dominate much of the country, well, this would be a long nightmare for the Libyan people and this would be a pariah state for some time to come," Hague said.