NATO chief calls for more planes to bomb Libyan targets

Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:33pm GMT
 

* NATO chief wants more commitment

* Dutch PM supports airstrikes, but won't participate

* British defence minister critical of some NATO members

THE HAGUE, July 14 (Reuters) - NATO members should supply more warplanes to bomb Libyan military targets, the alliance's secretary-general said on Thursday, increasing pressure on states to contribute more to the mission.

Western powers have become embroiled in a conflict in the oil-producing North African state, straining resources and relations among NATO's 28 members after only four months of a United Nations-mandated campaign meant to protect civilians from attacks by Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday, called on the Netherlands and other members of the alliance to consider their contributions to the mission, stressing the need for air-to-ground strikes.

"We can't protect civilians in Libya effectively if we are not prepared to take out critical military units on the ground that can be used to attack civilians. This is the reason why we do air-to-ground strikes," Rasmussen said.

"I encourage all allies that have aircraft at their disposal to take part in that operation as well," Rasmussen said in The Hague after a meeting with Rutte.

"I hope the Dutch government, like all other governments, will continuously consider adaptations of the strategy."   Continued...

 
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