UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council plans to meet on Friday to receive a French-British draft proposal for sanctions against Libyan leaders over the deadly attacks on demonstrators there, council envoys said.
No vote is expected on the draft elements of a sanctions resolution when the 15-nation council convenes at 3 p.m. (2000 GMT), Western diplomats said on Thursday. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they expressed hope for speedy negotiations on the text and a vote sometime next week.
At the meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will brief the council on the latest developments in Libya, the French and German U.N. missions said in separate statements.
So far, Russia and China, permanent veto-wielding council members that are usually reluctant to support U.N. sanctions against any country, have not objected to considering sanctions against Libya. But the diplomats said they expected Moscow and Beijing would attempt to dilute any proposed punitive steps.
The Anglo-French push came as rebels fighting forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi took control of major centers in eastern Libya, including Benghazi. Reports that the towns of Misrata and Zuara in the west had also fallen brought the tide of rebellion closer to the capital, Tripoli.
It was not immediately clear what precise measures would be included in the text, although diplomats suggested there could be asset freezes and travel bans for Gaddafi and other top Libyan officials seen as responsible for the violent crackdown on demonstrators that has left hundreds dead, the envoys said.
The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement on Thursday that it wanted concrete steps aimed at giving “immediate access to humanitarian aid and to impose sanctions on those responsible for violence.”
Earlier this week, some Libyan diplomats in New York denounced Gaddafi and defected. They urged the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over the country, an option the White House said on Thursday it was considering.
Washington also said it would back efforts to suspend Libya from the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council. The panel is expected to consider a resolution on Friday urging the General Assembly to formally suspend Libya’s membership on the council as early as next week.
Germany, a rotating Security Council member, also made clear that the time for council action had come.
“The violence against civilians, the repression against demonstrators just has to stop,” German U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig told reporters after a closed-door council meeting.
“We will have consultations about the next step,” he said. “It’s an ongoing process but we certainly want the council not only to monitor ... the situation but to take action.”
The Security Council demanded on Tuesday that Libya’s rulers stop using force against peaceful demonstrators, called for those responsible for such attacks to be held to account and vowed to monitor the situation closely.
“Apparently the regime in Tripoli did not heed the call of the Security Council,” Wittig said.
A delegate from China, which is usually reluctant to consider any action that would interfere with what it sees as the internal affairs of a sovereign country, made clear that Beijing was willing to discuss further council action.
“We’ll consider it,” Chinese diplomat Yang Tao said. He declined to elaborate.