U.N. Council Turns Down Libya Request for Special Meeting

Published March 21, 2011

| Reuters

The U.N. Security Council on Monday turned down a Libyan request for a special meeting to discuss Western air strikes on the country following the council's imposition of a no-fly zone, diplomats said.

The council decided instead simply to hold a briefing already planned for Thursday by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on how the resolution that set up the zone to protect civilians in Libya's internal conflict is being implemented.

Strikes were launched over the weekend by U.S., French and British warplanes and missiles to disable Libyan air defenses and halt government forces closing in on the eastern city of Benghazi and other centers held by rebels. 

Diplomats said Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa had written to the council over the weekend requesting that the 15-nation body hold an emergency session to debate the "military aggression" against Libya.

China, which holds the council chair this month, called closed-door council consultations on Monday to consider the letter.

"The council will convene on Thursday to receive the report by the secretary-general about the implementation of Resolution 1973 and will then discuss the situation in Libya," a council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said afterward.

The diplomat said he did not think the council intends to react to the letter by Koussa, but wants to remain focused on Libya on its own terms. "Why should the council meet now? Why shouldn't it wait until it has proper information from the secretary-general?" the diplomat asked.

'ALL NECESSARY MEASURES'

Under the terms of the March 17 resolution, which both clamped a no-fly zone on Libya and authorized "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, Ban was required to report back to the council within a week on its implementation.

Diplomats said Thursday's meeting was likely to be closed. Ban will just have returned from visits to Libya's neighbors Egypt and Tunisia.

The council is far from united over the action on Libya. In last week's vote, 10 countries supported the resolution and the other five council members abstained including Russia and China, which, however, refrained from using their veto power.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday called the resolution "defective and flawed" and likened it to medieval calls for crusades, a term later criticized by Russia President Dmitry Medvedev

Germany, Brazil and India also abstained.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa suggested on Sunday that the Western powers' military strikes on Libya had gone too far, but said on Monday he respected the resolution that imposed the no-fly zone, which the Arab League itself had called for.

Countries taking part in enforcing the no-fly zone are required to notify the United Nations. The world body said on Monday it had so far been notified by Britain, France, the United States, Denmark, Canada, Italy and Qatar.

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