Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Major dispute over Libya strategy set to mar NATO talks in Berlin

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Berlin, Apr 13, IRNA -- Deep differences over the western Libya strategy is to overshadow a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin on Thursday and Friday.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen who is to co-host the NATO talks with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, will have his hands full to find a unified political stance on the Libya conflict. Rasmussen has reiterated military force alone will not be sufficient to restore peace to the North African country.

Talking to the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, Rasmussen said to be honest there was 'no military solution' for the problem.

Rasmussen has also voiced concern over a possible 'military stalemate or de facto division of Libyan society.'

He warned Libya could become a 'failed state and a breeding ground for terror groups.'

NATO has formally taken over full command of air strike missions against Libya on March 31.

The western military pact is reportedly enforcing a UN-mandated arms embargo, a no-fly zone and actions to protect civilians and civilian centers in Libya.

While Paris and London have lambasted the western military alliance for 'not doing enough' in the Libyan conflict, Berlin has been pushing for a political rather than military solution.

Germany has been facing major criticism for abstaining in a UN vote authorizing the use of airstrikes against Libya which began three weeks ago.

The NATO foreign ministers' talks -- the first of its kind in Germany since 1996 -- comes also in the wake of Tuesday's meeting of the Libya Contact Group in Doha, Qatar, attended by more than 20 countries as well as the United Nations, NATO, the Arab League and representatives of the Libyan rebels Interim Transitional National Council.

A focus of the NATO talks could be also plans by the European Union for a humanitarian mission in Libya, should the UN make such a request.

According to German media reports, NATO is also setting the stage for a similar humanitarian operation in the Arab country.

NATO's chief of staff, German General Manfred Lange told the Deutsche Welle broadcasting network safeguarding aid convoys could also involve the limited deployment of ground forces.

While Libya is expected to be the biggest headache for the 28 NATO foreign ministers other issues like Afghanistan or NATO's controversial anti-missile defense system will also be on the agenda.

On Afghanistan, talks will dwell on the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the ongoing gradual transfer of security to local Afghan forces.

A more complex topic could be NATO's anti-missile umbrella, where a row between the western military alliance and Russia over a unified command center could damage bilateral ties in the long run.



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