France distressed by U.N. council Libya delay: envoy

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:03 AM
France distressed by U.N. council Libya delay: envoy

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - France's U.N. ambassador said on Tuesday Paris was "deeply distressed" by the Security Council's failure to react to advances by troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi against rebel forces.

Going into a closed-door council discussion of Libya, the envoy, Gerard Araud, told reporters that clamping a no-fly zone on Libya took precedence for France over further sanctions against Libyan leaders.

At the consultations, a draft resolution that would impose a no-fly zone and also provide for new sanctions was expected to be distributed to the council's 15 member states. But some members say they have yet to be convinced that a no-fly zone is the best approach and no vote was expected on Tuesday.

"We are deeply distressed by the fact that things are worsening on the ground, that the Gaddafi forces are moving forward and the council has not yet reacted," Araud said.

The Security Council slapped asset freezes and travel bans on leading Libyan figures in a resolution on February 26 but has taken no further action. Since then, Gaddafi's forces appear to have turned the tide against rebels advancing from the east.

The Arab League, represented on the council by Lebanon, as well as France and Britain have called for a no-fly zone, but the United States, Russia, Germany and some other council members have expressed varying degrees of doubt.

Araud said France wanted the council to act "as quickly as possible" to establish a no-fly zone.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by Mohammad Zargham)