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NATO to take overall control of Libyan mission - top EU diplomat

RIA Novosti

02:18 23/03/2011

BRUSSELS, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - NATO should assume overall command of the international operation in Libya, the EU top diplomat said.

"The discussions we've been having with NATO indicate that will be the way forward," EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said on Tuesday.

She told the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee that the alliance "is doing its planning now."

Later in the day, in an interview with Euronews, she also said that the European Union was not divided on the Libyan issue.

"I don't recognize the word 'divided,'" she said. "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."

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Tuesday that NATO finished its planning on the no-fly zone and arms embargo enforcement in Libya and all members of the alliance were "committed to meet their responsibilities under the United Nations resolution to stop the intolerable violence against Libyan civilians."

The UN Security Council imposed a no-fly zone over Libya last Friday allowing "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on rebel-held towns.

Operation Odyssey Dawn entered its third night of airstrikes on Libyan air defenses on Monday. Libyan state television has reported that at least 60 civilians have been killed and over 150 wounded.

In a brief speech on the national TV on Wednesday, Gaddafi pledged to continue fighting opposition and international coalition.

"In the end, we will win," he added.



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