Britain and France claim they would be prepared to support a no-fly zone over Libya, if forces loyal to
Muammar Gaddafi continue to attack fellow Libyans.
British Foreign Minister William Hague said both countries were working together to present a “bold and ambitious” plan to a European Union meeting on Libya next week.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said Paris supported a NATO planned no-fly zone.
His British counterpart William Hague claimed a number of options are under discussion: “We also agreed that the international community, including the United States and our other partners, should continue to plan different contingencies including a no-fly zone to ensure that we can respond swiftly and resolutely to events in Libya.”
The experience of previous no-fly zones over Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq have led to a reluctance on the part of some to commit, particularly China and Russia.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said that before a no-fly zone is set up, US forces would have to launch pre-emptive strikes against Libyan air defences.
Yet, the idea is not off the menu. The Arab League and African Union back a no-fly zone and the UN would consider the option if it were called for by the interim National Council formed by rebels in Libya.
But many in the Arab world would mean see it as yet more Western interference in a sovereign Arab and Muslim state.