Cairo, March 13 (DPA) The Arab League has called on the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya in an effort to protect civilians in the North African country.
The resolution, which came after a six-hour meeting Saturday of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, also called for the League to hold dialogue with the opposition Libyan National Council.
“The Arab League has officially requested the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone against any military action against the Libyan people,” secretary general Amr Moussa said in televised press a statement.
The Libyan delegation, which arrived in Cairo on Friday, did not attend the meeting.
But the delegation delivered a message to Moussa, asking the Arab League not to endorse any foreign military intervention in the North African country.
The League suspended Libya’s membership last month because of the violence used by government forces against protesters calling for Muammar Gaddafi to step down.
Moussa reportedly met with Libyan opposition members calling themselves the “February 17 revolutionaries” before the ministerial meeting.
Several Arab countries have already been in contact with the Libyan National Council, which aims to give a political face to the revolution, sources at the League told DPA.
The resolution called for dialogue with the council, formed in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, in order to better understand how to “support the Libyan population and protect it from criminal acts”.
The European Union on Friday announced it would cut off all ties with Gaddafi and would instead deal with the council, formed in the eastern, rebel-held city of Benghazi.
The Arab League meeting, announced last week, came a day after the EU called for a meeting with both the Arab League and the African Union to discuss the option of a no-fly zone.
But German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned Saturday that imposing a no-fly zone, or any kind of military intervention, could be misinterpreted as a “Christian crusade against people of the Muslim faith”.
“We don’t want to get pulled into a war in North Africa,” said Westerwelle. “I don’t think it’s healthy when Europe talks about other countries, instead of with those countries.”
The EU’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, is expected to meet with Moussa in Cairo Monday for talks on Libya.
Libya has been in turmoil since Feb 14, when government forces violently cracked down on protesters calling for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down after 42 years of rule.
Armed opposition groups had taken control of several cities in the eastern part of the country in recent weeks.
But Gaddafi’s forces, using air power and superior weaponry, are now launching fierce counter attacks to retake control of territory.