France's Sarkozy says EU backs Libya aid zones

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 9:55 AM
France's Sarkozy says EU backs Libya aid zones

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders have backed the creation of humanitarian aid zones to help Libyans, first in neighboring countries but also within Libya, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after EU talks Friday.

"The Council (EU summit) has decided that the European Union will allow humanitarian agencies and actors access to humanitarian zones, in places that we did not specify, to deal with displaced persons, at first in Tunisia and Egypt," Sarkozy told a news conference.

"We would like these humanitarian zones to then exist in Libya to deal with the tens of thousands of displaced people."

He said France had always ruled out military intervention on the ground but said the military option should be considered if civilians were targeted.

"Nobody wants it, but it is clear that Europe is sending a message and did not want to exclude this option," he said.

Sarkozy said a statement from EU leaders expressed "extreme concern" about air attacks by Gaddafi forces on rebels "and says that to protect the civilian population the member states will consider all the necessary options."

"And you understand that all the options considered by the member states in this case are not all diplomatic," he added.

He said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi must go and the rebel Libyan National Council was considered by the European Union as the legitimate political representatives of the Libyan people.

Sarkozy said there were plans to call a summit of EU, Arab and African leaders in the coming weeks on Libya.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry in Brussels, John Irish and Leigh Thomas in Paris; writing by Brian Love and Mark Heinrich)