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U.S., France, U.K. agree on NATO's key role in Libyan operation

RIA Novosti

07:51 23/03/2011

WASHINGTON, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - Leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom and France agreed in a phone conversation that NATO should take key role in the military operation in Libya.

"The leaders... agreed that NATO should play a key role in the command structure going forward for the enforcement of the no-fly zone," said Ben Rhodes, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.

"And again, those discussions are ongoing in Brussels and in capitals, but of course, in their calls the President - with President [Nicolas] Sarkozy and Prime Minister [David] Cameron, there was agreement that NATO does have a key role to play in this effort," he went on.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton confirmed on Tuesday that such discussions are ongoing.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said 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 U.S. imposed unilateral sanctions on 14 Libyan companies, owned by Libya's National Oil Corporation which it sees "the centerpiece of Libya's state-owned oil apparatus" and "a primary funding source for the Qadhafi regime."

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.

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