Libya splits EU, Italy asks for NATO

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Libya splits EU, Italy asks for NATO

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The European Union’s foreign ministers continue to have trouble speaking as one voice over intervention policy in Libya.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has tried to show a united front, but divisions over military action under UN Security Council authority complicate her task.

Following debate in the Council, Ashton said: “While contributing in a differentiated way, the EU and its member states are determined to act collectively and resolutely with all international partners, particularly the Arab League, to give full effect to these decisions.”

Guido Westerwelle, going into the talks in Brussels, further defended Germany’s decision not to back air strikes, although Berlin agreed with other EU countries to tighten sanctions against the Libyan government.

Westerwelle said: “We will not participate with German soldiers but this does not mean that we are neutral. This does not mean that we have any sympathy with the dictator Gaddafi. But it means that we see the risks, and when we listen closely to what the Arab League said yesterday, unfortunately, we see that we had reasons for our concern.”

Italy’s Franco Frattini, whose country once ruled Libya as a colony and which has had close ties with it under Gaddafi, also showed mixed feelings over western-led intervention.

Frattini said: “I think it should not be a war on Libya. We believe it is time to move from a coalition of willings [sic]towards a bit more coordinated approach under NATO.”

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said the Arab League does not wish NATO to take sole charge. Paris believes that would alienate the Arab world and Russia, China and smaller nations that let the UN resolution pass.