Tuesday, March 22, 2011


India, which abstained during a vote in the UN Security council approving military action against Kadhafi's regime, had already called for an end to the airstrikes due to the risk of civilian casualties.

"What is happening within a country, within their internal affairs, no external forces should interfere with it," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said after Western warplanes pounded Kadhafi's strongholds for a third night.

"Whether the regime will continue or not, it will depend on the people of that particular country, not any external forces," he told parliament.

Coalition forces, led by the United States, France and Britain, are acting under the UN resolution that allows the deployment of all necessary means to stop Kadhafi's forces harming civilians.

US President Barack Obama said Monday Washington's ultimate goal was the departure of Kadhafi, but British Prime Minister David Cameron said there was no legal authority for regime change in Libya.

India,China, Russia, Germany, and Brazil all abstained from the UN vote.

"We oppose the use of force that could result in more civilian casualties and a greater humanitarian crisis," Beijing's foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Tuesday.

Sri Lanka, a staunch ally of Libya, on Tuesday called for a dialogue to end the violence and urged "all parties" to show restraint and spare civilians.

In India, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supported the Congress-led government in a rare moment of political unity.
"We are completely with the democratic forces which are struggling against the dictatorship... but it is their internal matter," said senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha.

India has traditionally pursued a non-aligned foreign policy, although it has tilted towards the United States since the end of the Cold War.

It has also been drilling oil blocks in Libya as part of its bid to secure energy assets to fuel its fast-expanding economy.

The French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle left its home port of Toulon in southern France for the Mediterranean as France claimed the coalition had successfully established a ‘no-fly zone' over Libya.

France will continue to target Libya's military installations and air defences, a French military spokesman said.

Within minutes of President Nicolas Sarkozy's speech at the Paris summit on Saturday announcing the decision to cripple Colonel Qadhafi's firepower, French Mirage and Rafale fighter planes hit tanks and armoured vehicles close to Benghazi commanded by forces loyal to the Libyan strongman.

Libya claimed that its anti-aircraft batteries had downed a French plane. But the claim was immediately denied by French authorities, who said all their fighter aircraft returned home safely. Libya also claimed dozens of civilians had been killed and injured by the air raids, and voices are already being raised against the predominantly Western military action. Russia called on Sunday for a halt to “non-selective” bombing of targets.

The Arab League, which appeared to fully support the operation on Saturday, called for a halt to the bombing raids on Sunday. “What is happening in Libya is different from the objective of imposing a no-fly zone. That is what we want, not the bombardment of the civilian population,” Arab League General Secretary Amre Mussa said.

However, French sources said that despite these reservations, countries such as the United Arab Emirates or Qatar would send planes for the raids. The African Union too rejected “foreign military intervention” in Libya and called for an “African” solution to the conflict in that “brother country.” However, five African Presidents meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania, failed to come out with any solution, except to call yet another meeting for March 25. The Africans did not attend Saturday's Paris summit that brought together 22 heads of state and government as well as representatives of international organisations, including the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League.


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