NATO allies reluctant to step up Libya campaign

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NATO allies reluctant to step up Libya campaign

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NATO allies have given a lukewarm response to British and French calls to intensify Libyan operations and for more countries to get involved.

Only six of NATO’s 28 countries have taken part in attacks on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

Spain has made it clear it will stick to missions to enforce the arms embargo and no-fly zone. Italy is reluctant to do more because of its colonial past.

The head of NATO said the nature of the campaign had changed.

“To avoid civilian casualities, we need very sophisticated equipment, so we need a few more precision fighters, ground attack aircraft for air to ground missions,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of the alliance. “We are keeping up the pressure and we will do so for as long as it takes.”

In Cairo there has been more diplomacy involving the Arab League, the African Union and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for Colonel Gaddafi to go and said the only solution would be political. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate ceasefire in Libya.

Yesterday the so-called “contact group” of Western and Middle East countries met Libyan rebel groups in Doha and pledged support.

Cairo offered an illustration of how tensions are spilling over beyond Libya’s borders with Gaddafi supporters and opponents clashing outside the Arab League headquarters.