NATO and the European Union are cooperating over the Libya emergency, but practical moves in the area, the Atlantic alliance’s secretary-general said, would need a clear United Nations mandate.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen was speaking at an EU defence ministers’ meeting in Hungary.
He said: “What is happening in Libya is of great concern to all of us. It is a crisis in our immediate neighbourhood.”
The EU has agreed on some sanctions against Tripoli: an arms and law enforcement equipment embargo, travel restrictions and an assets freeze, but that will take possibly several days before it can be enforced. EU sources would not name the Libyans targeted. One diplomat said this was: “to avoid a run on assets”.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: “The three aspects of what we’re doing [are], first of all, the evacuation, secondly, the coordination of what the EU can do to put pressure on the situation in Libya to stop the violence, and thirdly, the collaboration internationally, particularly with the Security Council, to ensure that we have a coordinated approach.”
At the meeting, Rasmussen ruled out immediate direct NATO intervention, but a diplomat said European governments are making “contingency plans” to police Libyan airspace.