Consultations over, aids to Libya continue

Updated: 2011-04-27 16:07


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Sarkozy said France "needs Italy's increased participation in Libya" and that their shared goal is to "support the desire of democracy and freedom of the Libyan population."

But he ruled out the possibility of deploying ground troops as it was not envisaged by the UN 1973 resolution.

The two leaders also tried to ease tensions over North African migrants. About 26,000 migrants, mostly from Tunisia, have arrived on the southern Italy island of Lampedusa since January when the situation in Tunisia worsened, which has caused arguments between Italy and France.

In a joint letter to European President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission (EC) chief Jose Manuel Barroso, both leaders called for a revision of the Schengen treaty, a greater financial burden-sharing approach by the EU member states in handling the immigrant arrivals, more funds for the Mediterranean development and a reinforcement of the EU border agency Frontex.

The White House said that US President Barack Obama on Tuesday authorized up to $25 million in nonlethal aid to the opposition in Libya.

In a memorandum to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama directed that the aid be offered in the form of nonlethal commodities and services from the inventory and resources of any agency of the federal government to support "key US government partners" such as the Libyan opposition's Interim Transitional National Council.

Under the memorandum, the aid will be used in efforts to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack in Libya.

US officials had said that the aid package would include vehicles, ambulances, medical equipment, body armor, radios and meals ready to eat.

Obama approved last week the use of armed Predator drones in the military mission in Libya.

The commander of NATO military operations in Libya on Tuesday denied the alliance's bombing of Gaddafi's compound was an assassination attempt.

"It is not about regime change. This is about bring an end to violence against stopping and preventing those commanding and control nodes, location where orders are given to troops to engage civilian population," Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard said via video conference from Naples, Italy.

In a statement, NATO described the attack early Monday as a precision strike on a communications headquarters "that was used to coordinate attacks against civilians."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Russia would not support a new UN resolution on Libya which will lead to a further escalation of the fighting in the country.

However, no new resolution on Libya has been submitted to the UN Security Council so far, Lavrov said at a meeting in the Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia.

The minister stressed that if a new UN resolution would imply an immediate end to violence and call for negotiations, "Russia would support it unconditionally."

Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mourad Medelci on Monday reaffirmed his country's position on Libyan crisis, saying that attempts of Libyan rebels' "National Transitional Council" (NTC) to change the Algerian position based on the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of others are in vain.

"Some people in Benghazi supported by other parties tried to bring Algeria to change its diplomatic position, which is totally impossible," local El Chourouk newspaper quoted Medelci as saying in an interview.

Libyan rebels have accused Algeria of supporting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his regime while Algeria denied such an accusation.

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