France pushes UN council to vote on help for Libya

Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:31pm GMT

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - France pressed the U.N. Security Council to vote on Thursday on a resolution that Britain said would authorize all steps in Libya short of a military occupation to protect Libyan civilians.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe headed for New York to urge the 15-nation council not to waste any time adopting a resolution that would authorize a no-fly zone, expanded sanctions against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle and other steps.

The United States said a vote would likely be taken at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT). French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud earlier said he wanted a vote by 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT).

Lebanon, Britain and France circulated a draft resolution on Tuesday that called for "all necessary measures" to enforce a ban on all flights over Libya except for humanitarian flights and to protect civilians.

The United States, in a sharp shift in tone, wants the United Nations to authorize not just a no-fly zone to aid Libyan rebels but also air strikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery, U.S. officials said.

The diplomatic efforts at the United Nations come as Libyan troops advance toward the insurgent stronghold of Benghazi and launch air raids on its outskirts.

British Foreign Minister William Hague gave members of the British parliament some details about the latest version of the draft resolution under discussion in New York.

"The resolution that is under discussion today includes demands for an immediate ceasefire, a complete end to violence, a ban on all flights in Libyan air space with the exception of humanitarian flights," Hague said.   Continued...

<p>A file photo shows the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>
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