France: NATO will support Libya action after U.S

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 1:18 PM
France: NATO will support Libya action after U.S

PARIS (Reuters) - France's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that NATO would provide support to military intervention by the Western-led coalition in Libya when the United States scaled back its participation.

"When the Americans decide to take a bit of a step back, NATO could come in to support, that seems fairly clear," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages.

A heated meeting of NATO ambassadors on Monday failed to agree on whether the 28-nation alliance should run the operation to enforce a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone.

Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi attacked a town near Tripoli on Tuesday after a third night of air raids on the capital, but the Western campaign faced questions over the future of its command structure.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe suggested on Monday that NATO could take leadership at a planning and coordination level, but political leadership of the mission would need to come from coalition partners.

Fages said, however, that the issue of who should run the alliance was not pressing for the time being, as Washington's leadership was working.

"We have no problem with seeking (NATO) help. What matters at the moment is implementing the U.N. resolution and for the time being, the U.S. leadership is working," Fages said.

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn)