News / Africa

Coalition Vows to Keep Up Military Pressure on Libya

Delegates attending the London Conference on Libya, pose for a group photo at Lancaster House in London, Tuesday March 29, 2011.
Delegates attending the London Conference on Libya, pose for a group photo at Lancaster House in London, Tuesday March 29, 2011.

International diplomats meeting in London have agreed the airstrikes must continue amid ongoing calls that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi leave power.

British Prime Minister David Cameron laid out the major thrust of days of airstrikes against Libyan forces as he addressed top world envoys gathered Tuesday in London.

"We're all here united for one purpose, and that is to help the Libyan people in their hour of need.  Today, I believe, should be about a new beginning for Libya, a future in which the people of Libya can determine their own destiny, free from violence and free from oppression," he said.

Describing fighting in the Libyan city of Misrata, Mr. Cameron said the Libyan government was in flagrant breach of a United Nations mandate to protect civilians.

Gathering officials from the United States, NATO, Arab and African countries, along with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the London conference follows a Paris meeting earlier this month on Libya.

Diplomats on Tuesday agreed to continue airstrikes until Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi complies with terms of the U.N. mandate.  They also agreed to establish a contact group to map out Libya's future, with Qatar to host the first meeting.

The London conference comes as the Libyan army surged against rebel forces who had been making recent gains following NATO airstrikes.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said diplomats did not discuss the question of arming Libya's opposition.  He said they had agreed to consider more sanctions against the Libyan government.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the accomplishments of the international effort to date. "We have prevented a potential massacre, established a no-fly zone, stopped an advancing army, added more partners to this coalition and transferred command of the military effort to NATO.  That's not bad for a week of work at a time of intense international concern," she said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban also said he is encouraged that the coalition included broader participation, with two Arab countries joining in.  Mr. Ban later said he would dispatch an envoy to Libya to mediate between Mr. Gadhafi and the rebels.

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