martes, 29 de marzo de 2011

Libya: conference to ensure country does not suffer same fate as Iraq -

But Mr Cameron, desperate to avoid comparisons with the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, said yesterday that it will be the Libyan people who ultimately decide their political future.

Mr Cameron told the Commons: "It is for the people of Libya to choose how they are governed and who governs them, but they have a far better chance of doing that as we stand today than they did 10 days ago.

"Had we not acted, their future would have already been decided for them."

Also attending today's meeting will be Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations general secretary. He will sit alongside Mr Cameron as they discuss the implementation of Security Council resolutions on Libya; preparations for any humanitarian emergency in the country; post-conflict stabilisation; and the political way forward to allow the Libyan people to move to a more open and democratic government.

In a video conference held between Mr Cameron, Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, he laid out his priorities for the conference in which he hopes to "strengthen and broaden the coalition of countries committed to implementing the UN resolutions and protecting the people of Libya."

In the Commons Mr Cameron said the allied action in Libya over the past 10 days has had a "significant and beneficial effect."

"We have stopped the assault on Benghazi and helped to create conditions in which a number of towns have been liberated from Gaddafi's onslaught," he said. "The no-fly zone is now fully operational and effective. When it has been challenged, Gaddafi's planes have been shot down.

"He can no longer terrorise the Libyan people from the air."

But a poll for today's Independent shows that seven out of 10 people fear that Britain's involvement in military action in Libya could turn into another Iraq conflict.

Last night a British official told The Times that although Gaddafi should be "held to account", he admitted an exile plan had not been "ruled out" as it may be in Libya's best interests. Italy has been pushing for such an outcome, and last night reiterated calls for Gaddafi's potential asylum. Such a move could be implemented by the African Union.

"Gaddafi must understand that it would be an act of courage to say: 'I understand that I have to go'," said Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister. "We hope that the African Union can find a valid proposal."

Barack Obama, the US president, meanwhile assured Americans that "our involvement there [in Libya] is going to be limited, both in time and in scope."

Facing rising complaints from both Left and Right about cost, the reasons for US involvement and the apparent lack of an exit strategy, Mr Obama was expected to say in a nationally televised speech last night that the coalition's military action had averted a catastrophe and was serving wider US interests in the Middle East.

He was due to say that his thinking had been influenced by Bill Clinton's failure to stop atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia, but to draw a distinction between himself and George W Bush, who went to war in Iraq without the approval of the United Nations.

The White House has been accused of sending out confusing messages by calling the military mission primarily "humanitarian" and denying the goal was removing Col Gaddafi, while demanding that the Libyan leader step down.

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