US welcomes Arab League backing of no-fly zone

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa
© AFP Aris Messinis


WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States welcomed Arab League support for a no-fly zone over Libya on Saturday, saying it signaled “unified” international pressure on Moamer Kadhafi’s regime to halt the violence.

It stressed it would maintain its posture of support for the Libyan opposition, and that Washington was preparing for “all contingencies” in the North African nation where rebels have been battling regime forces for weeks.

“We welcome this important step by the Arab League, which strengthens the international pressure on Kadhafi and support for the Libyan people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

“The international community is unified in sending a clear message that the violence in Libya must stop, and that the Kadhafi regime must be held accountable.”

After crisis talks in Cairo the Arab League urged the United Nations to slap a no-fly zone on Libya and said Kadhafi’s regime had “lost legitimacy,” in a boost for rebels fighting to unseat the strongman. Washington joined Britain in welcoming the 22-member League’s support.

US President Barack Obama warned on Friday that the world is “tightening the noose” on Kadhafi, but admitted he is concerned the Libyan strongman’s forces could thwart rebels battling to oust him.

“The United States will continue to advance our efforts to pressure Kadhafi, to support the Libyan opposition, and to prepare for all contingencies, in close coordination with our international partners,” Carney said in his statement.

US posture on a no-fly zone over Libya has been far from unanimous.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday that the US military and other allies could impose such a zone but it remains unclear if it would be a “wise” move.

“This is not a question of whether we or our allies can do this. We can do it,” Gates told reporters aboard his plane after a visit to Bahrain.

“The question is whether it’s a wise thing to do and that’s the discussion that’s going on at a political level,” he said.

© AFPPublished at Activist Post with license

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