Middle-East

Countries Reject Intervention in Libya as NATO Moves Warships Into Mediterranean

Beijing (Xinhua): Many countries in the world on Thursday voiced their opposition to any military intervention in unrest-torn Libya amid increasing calls for enforcing a no-fly zone over the North African country.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Damascus was against all forms of external intervention in Libya’s affairs, and stressed respect for its sovereignty, independence and unity.

“Syria calls for securing the lives of civilians, stopping violence against the Libyan people and resorting to wisdom and dialogue,” the official SANA news agency reported.

The African Union also rejected “any form of foreign military intervention” in Libya.

“The council reaffirms its firm commitment to the respect of the unity and territorial integrity of Libya,” said Ramtane Lamamra, commissioner of AU’s Peace and Security Council.

The announcements came after NATO ministers decided Thursday to move warships to the central Mediterranean, but failed to reach an agreement on the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.

“These ships will improve NATO’s situational awareness, which is vital in the current circumstances, and they will contribute to our surveillance and monitoring capability,” NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels.

The United States and its Western allies were debating on enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, along with a military action against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

However, most Latin American leaders favored a peaceful mediation initiative, saying any military intervention would only prolong the conflict in Libya.

“When threats of military interventions emerge, it is necessary for the whole nation to stand together in unity to defend their sovereignty,” Bolivian President Evo Morales told reporters in the capital La Paz.

Morales met with Gaddafi during a visit by the Libyan leader to Bolivia two years ago.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has proposed to send a delegation to Tripoli to mediate between Gaddafi’s loyalists and the rebels.

Welcoming Chavez’s initiative, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said Uruguay firmly supported a Latin American-led mediation effort to prevent any further loss of life.

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said in Havana: “We are against the civil war in Libya, and in favor of an immediate peace and the full respect for the lives and rights of all citizens, without foreign intervention.”

Cuba “fully supports the courageous position of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez,” he said.

On Thursday, France became the first country to recognize the rebel Interim National Council of Transition (INCT) based in Libya’s second largest city of Benghazi.

But a Libyan Foreign Ministry official warned that Libya could suspend diplomatic relations with France after Paris’ recognition of INCT.

Troops loyal to Gaddafi and rebels seeking his downfall were battling each other Thursday in Zawiyah, a town 40 km west of Tripoli.

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