Need to move quickly on Libya: French government source

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 11:50 AM
Need to move quickly on Libya: French government source

PARIS (Reuters) - The international community must act fast over the situation in Libya, a French government source said on Saturday after forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attacked the rebel-held city of Benghazi.

"Everything is ready (to act) but the decision is now a political one. It's clear we have to move quickly," the source said, hours before France was due to host an international meeting to discuss military intervention.

There was no immediate comment from the French presidency or foreign ministry, or from the British government, which together with Paris has led calls for military action to stop Gaddafi from crushing the rebels.

"We're not going to do a running commentary," a Downing Street spokesman said.

NATO ambassadors were due to meet on Saturday to discuss details of plans for possible alliance operations in Libya.

A NATO diplomat said no decision on whether NATO should act was expected before Sunday, but added: "Obviously the pressure is building to do something now."

Gaddafi's forces pushed into Benghazi, defying world demands for an immediate ceasefire and in spite of a Libyan government pledge on Friday that it was observing a ceasefire.

The advance pre-empted the Paris talks, which will be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Arab leaders.

France's ambassador to the United Nations told the BBC late on Friday: "So I guess that after this summit, I think that in the coming hours, I think we will go to launch the military intervention."

(Reporting by John Irish, Keith Weir and David Brunnstrom, editing by Mark Trevelyan)