Stretched NATO wants broader Libya effort, no offers

Wed Jun 8, 2011 5:48pm GMT
 

Norway said last month it would scale down its air strike role after its three-month commitment ends on June 24.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, attending his last NATO meeting before retiring, named Spain, Turkey and Netherlands as countries that should consider doing strike missions, officials familiar with the discussions said.

Gates also said Germany and Poland had the capability to contribute to the mission, the officials said.

CALL TO SHARE BURDEN

"He did make the point that certain countries are carrying a large share of the burden ... and you couldn't have the alliance as such expect only eight countries to carry that part of the burden," a senior U.S. official said. "He wanted other countries to look at this issue."

While all NATO allies agree that Gaddafi, who is battling an almost four-month-old rebellion, must go, not all view military intervention as the best way to achieve this.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he had asked ministers to share the burden and British Defence Minister Liam Fox told reporters "We want to see increased urgency in some quarters in terms of Libya."

Rasmussen said NATO had the military assets needed to continue the operation, but broader backing would make it more sustainable. "The broader the support, the stronger the sustainability," he told a news conference.

NATO says its bombing campaign has greatly reduced the capacity of Gaddafi's forces, but analysts say the conflict could drag on for many months.   Continued...

<p>A rebel fighter is seen behind a Kingdom of Libya flag near the front line along the western entrance gate of Ajdabiyah April 18, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh</p>
 
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