Russia-NATO Council meeting to address Libya issue
BRUSSELS, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - The situation in Libya is among the issues to be discussed during the NATO-Russia Council ambassadorial meeting in late March, Russia's envoy to the military alliance said on Wednesday.
"The meeting will take place at the end of the month, most probably on March 29. The Libya issue will be on the agenda," Dmitry Rogozin told RIA Novosti.
Russia's position on Libya "seems much clearer than the position of other European countries," Rogozin said.
"We have initiated a dialogue on the cessation of fire in Libya," the envoy said, adding that this was something all parties to the discussion could agree on.
Russia was among the five countries who abstained from the UN Security Council vote last Thursday that imposed a no-fly zone over Libya. A Security Council permanent member, Russia did not use its veto right to block the resolution, which authorized "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on rebel-held towns.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton denied allegations on Tuesday that the European Union was divided on the Libyan issue.
"I don't recognize the word 'divided,'" she said in an interview with Euronews. "There are different approaches from different member states to the military issues, but a real strength of view on coming together on the other issues."
Airstrikes which have been carried out by international coalition warplanes since Saturday have caused significant damage to Libya's defense facilities. Libyan state television has reported that at least 60 civilians have been killed and over 150 wounded by UN-sanctioned attacks.
The European and NATO leadership have been discussing the handover of the key role in the military operation in Libya to NATO. The alliance's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said on Tuesday NATO has finished its planning on the no-fly zone and arms embargo enforcement in Libya and all members of the alliance were "committed to meeting their responsibilities under the United Nations resolution to stop the intolerable violence against Libyan civilians."
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