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Turkey criticises France's role in Libya intervention

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Mon, 21 Mar 2011 10:15 AM
Author: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Click For Restrictions. http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
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ANKARA, March 21 (Reuters) - Muslim Turkey said on Monday it was disturbed by fellow NATO member France's "prominent role" in the U.N.-mandated intervention in Libya, signalling further disagreements within the alliance.

"It seems impossible for us to understand France being so prominent in this process. We are having difficulty in understanding it being like the enforcer of United Nations decisions," Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul told reporters.

"But afterwards it was understood that the United States is in the command," he said.

Several NATO nations, led by France, Britain and the United States, have taken part in air attacks on Libya launched on Sunday. But NATO as an organisation, which takes all decisions by consensus, has been divided on whether to take part.

Turkey has spoken against intervention in Libya and has called for an immediate ceasefire.

Germany has also spoken against foreign intervention in Libya, and the Arab League has questioned the need for a heavy bombardment, saying it had killed many civilians.

NATO ambassadors on Sunday approved a plan for the alliance to help enforce a U.N. arms embargo on Libya after Turkey had earlier blocked agreement to help enforce a no-fly zone.

A NATO official said more discussion was needed on another plan for possible NATO involvement in enforcing a U.N. no-fly zone over Libya.

The alliance's role is currently limited to air surveillance.

Envoys from the 28 NATO nations were due to meet later on Monday to agree how to implement an arms embargo, which would involve use of alliance aircraft and ships to prevent weapons reaching Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was due to chair a meeting later on Monday to discuss the situation in Libya with ministers and military commanders, diplomatic sources said.

Erdogan, whose country is a rising diplomatic voice in the Middle East, has urged Gaddafi to appoint a president with popular support as a way to end Libya's crisis. (Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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