April 13, 2011 / 3:17 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-France says coalition must keep pressure on Gaddafi

(Adds quotes, detail)

DOHA, April 13 (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday the coalition force in Libya must keep up strong military pressure on Muammar Gaddafi’s troops in order to convince him there is no way out.

Juppe, meeting other coalition foreign ministers in Qatar amid signs of cracks in the alliance led by France and Britain, said better coordination was needed between NATO and the Libyan opposition national council over targeted air strikes.

“The aim is very clear, Gaddafi must go but we need a political solution,” Juppe told reporters. “We must keep up a strong and robust military pressure to convince Gaddafi there is no way out.”

“We have asked NATO to apply in a robust way the mission granted by (United Nations) resolution 1973,” he added. “We have to ensure the aerial resources and capacity are sufficient. You know that France has supplied a third of the planes that can be used.”

Paris and London are increasingly frustrated that three weeks of air strikes have neither tipped the balance of the war in favour of rebels trying to end Muammar Gaddafi’s 41-year rule nor ended Gaddafi’s shelling of the besieged city of Misrata.

On Tuesday, Juppe criticised NATO for for not doing enough to stop the bombing of Misrata. French daily Le Monde reported that Defence Minister Gerard Longuet had also said more U.S. participation in military strikes was needed in order to stem attacks by Gaddafi’s army.

In Doha, Juppe reiterated that Gaddafi was no longer legitimate and added that whether his departure should be made a precondition of negotiations for a political resolution, or could happen during it, was still a point for discussion.

“As far as a ceasefire goes, we hope we are getting to a ceasefire but a real ceasefire. Not simply a halt to shooting but the retreat of Gaddafi’s forces,” Juppe also said. (Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Catherine Bremer)

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