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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

International Conference Pledges Additional Aid to Libyan Rebels

VOA News April 13, 2011

Western and Arab diplomats have defended international military efforts in Libya and pledged to offer more monetary, political and humanitarian support for the Libyan opposition.

Diplomats from around the world met in Qatar Wedesday to coordinate an international aid response for the Libyan people.

After the meeting, Qatar's crown prince urged Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down in a way that is "wise" and "peaceful." He announced that Italy would host the group's next meeting during the first week of May.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the goals of the group are to maintain pressure on Gadhafi's government, develop peace-building efforts and financially support those Libyans working toward democracy.

Hague said the international community's actions to protect Libyan civilians caught in the country's bloody conflict are "necessary, legal and right." An international alliance has been providing military support through airstrikes led by NATO.

A spokesman for the rebels' Transitional National Council told delegates NATO is not doing enough to protect civilians. However, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the international community had taken "decisive action."

In Berlin Wednesday, Germany expelled five Libyan diplomats for allegedly intimidating Libyan citizens living in the country. Germany's foreign ministry said the five must leave the country within a week.

On Tuesday, both France and Britain urged the NATO alliance to intensify airstrikes against government forces attacking civilians.

NATO rejected the French and British criticism. Brigadier General Mark Van Uhm said Tuesday the alliance is "doing a great job" and protecting civilians with the assets it possesses.

NATO took over command of the operation over Libya from the United States on March 31. The alliance has been enforcing a U.N.-authorized "no fly" zone aimed at protecting civilians under attack by Mr. Gadhafi's forces. It is also conducting airstrikes in Libya.

Government forces pummeled Misrata with rockets Tuesday, as witnesses reported casualties. Heavy fighting raged in Ajdabiya, the last large city on the road to the opposition's eastern stronghold of Benghazi.

A NATO spokesman said Tuesday that alliance aircraft destroyed five tanks close to Misrata that were threatening the civilian population there.



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