Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Calls For Ceasefire in Libya Ring Louder

Calls for ceasefire in Libya ring louder

By Michael Peel in Abu Dhabi and Guy Dinmore in Rome
Financial Times
June 22 2011 18:22

Calls for a ceasefire in Libya’s civil war grew on Wednesday as Nato’s bombing campaign approached its 100th day with an end to the crisis nowhere in sight.

China urged a solution “through political channels” and Italy said it would support an immediate end to hostilities to allow humanitarian aid in, while the Arab world’s top diplomat spoke of his “misgivings” about civilian deaths from Nato air strikes.

The activity highlights growing international unease at the deadlock in Libya, despite a more than four-month rebellion and more than three months of bombings by the military alliance of targets linked to Muammer Gaddafi’s 41-year regime.

Yang Jiechi, China’s foreign minister, said: “We hope the two parties in conflict in Libya can attach importance to the country and the people’s interests, and earnestly consider the international community’s relevant resolution plans, quickly cease hostilities, and resolve the Libyan crisis through political channels.”

Mr Yang told Mahmoud Jibril, lead diplomat for the eastern-based rebellion against Colonel Gaddafi, that China was worried about the Libyan crisis. He hailed Mr Jibril as an “important dialogue partner”, but did not repudiate Col Gaddafi and urged the two sides to help stop the people of Libya “suffering from the hardship and chaos of war”.

Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister, told parliament his government would support a proposal for an immediate cessation of hostilities to allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians.

Mr Frattini said Italy would back such an appeal if it were jointly decided by the European Union, African Union, Arab League and the UN. A spokesman for the minister said this was a “working hypothesis” that had been discussed by representative of those institutions at a meeting on Libya in Cairo on June 18.

Debates over the Nato campaign – which was launched under a UN mandate to protect civilians – have intensified with the passage of time, disagreements between military alliance members and disquiet over the house full of civilians killed by a stray missile at the weekend.

While Col Gaddafi has few close friends in the world’s powerful countries, there are widening differences internationally over the morality and political wisdom of a bombing campaign now almost three weeks longer than the one against Slobodan Milosevic over Kosovo.

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