March 11, 2011 / 5:25 PM / 9 years ago

Former US President Clinton backs Libya no-fly zone

* Bill Clinton says rebels asked for help, need fair fight

* Stance is contrast to cautious Obama approach

NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said the United States should enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to allow a fair fight between insurgents and troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The international community has been debating whether to impose a no-fly zone as Gaddafi’s warplanes carry out air strikes unhindered by insurgent anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back of pick-up trucks.

Clinton’s comments echoed those of some prominent U.S. senators calling for a no-fly zone to police Libyan air space and went beyond the caution of the Obama administration.

“I wouldn’t do it if they hadn’t asked, but if the (insurgent) leaders are on television pleading for it, “I think that we should do it,” Clinton told the Women in the World conference in New York late on Thursday.

“Gaddafi has internationalized the conflict himself by hiring people from other countries who do not give a rip about the Libyans,” Clinton said. “So that’s why (the insurgents) said, ‘Just give us the chance to have a fair fight,’ and I, for whatever it’s worth, think that’s what we should do.”

Clinton said previous no-fly zones had worked, noting such efforts over Iraq and Bosnia during his presidency, which spanned from 1993 to 2001.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former president’s wife, has said it was up to the United Nations to decide whether there should be a no-fly zone. [ID:nN10137653]

She told a congressional hearing on Thursday the no-fly zones over Serbia and Iraq had not stopped the killing of civilians and did not push leaders out of power. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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