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Africa

EU divided on Franco-British Libya plan

media Germany's Angela Merkel (L) with France's Nicolas Sarkozy Reuters

European Union leaders were divided as they met in Brussels to discuss what action to take against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, whose forces have retaken key towns. Germany and Italy have criticised French and British proposals to recognise the rebel national council and impose a no-fly zone.

“Certain members of the opposition were until recently members of the Kadhafi regime,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin before the summit.

He questioned how representative the Libyan National Council is and what its intentions for the future of the country are.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

Several European countries are reported to feel that France jumped the gun in recognising the council.

“I believe Europeans would be well advised to take the decisions they need to take at the meeting and not a day before,” Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker commented Friday.

Other diplomats have told reporters that the French government is trying to fend off domestic criticism of its slow reaction to the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings rather than foreign policy considerations.

Britain and France have also drafted a resolution the put to the UN calling for an air exclusion zone if Kadhafi uses chemical weapons or air power against Libyan citizens.

Westerwelle declared himself “very sceptical” about the proposal, pointing out that enforcing it would mean the use of weapons.

A two-day Nato defence ministers meeting that started on Thursday agreed to send more ships to Libya’s coast, but put off a decision on a no-fly zone.

“There is no rush to move forward without the UN,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

All EU leaders agree that Kadhafi should go and may decide to freeze Libyan oil companies’ assets, according to current EU president Hungary.

Kadhafi on Friday threatened to withdraw support for the war on terror and stop combating illegal migration if foreign pressure on him continues.

Libya may “completely change its stance towards Al-Qaeda”, he warned in a message which also said he may cease “support against clandestine migration in which millions of blacks flow into Europe”.

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