The US will not rule out arming Libyan rebels as they try to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. That was the message from President Barack Obama in a televised interview.
Such a line risks upsetting those in Congress who are reluctant to support US military involvement, but Obama was adamant his actions are justified.
“Well I think Gaddafi’s camp, people around him, are starting to recognise that their options are limited and that their days are numbered,” said President Obama.
Back in London, a conference of 40 governments had earlier agreed to press ahead with a NATO-led aerial bombardment of Libyan forces.
But while NATO says it will remain within the limits of the UN resolution, France begged to differ over the arming issue.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said: “I must remind you it is not part of the UN resolution, resolution 1973 and 1970 – which for the moment France is sticking to – but we are open to discussing arming rebels with our partners.”
Such a division will obviously top the agenda of the new “contact group” due to meet in Qatar. The London conference set that up to facilitate Libya’s transition to democracy, should that moment arrive.