Canada rejects G8 action on Libya no-fly zone
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, March 16, 2011 9:04AM EDT
OTTAWA - The UN Security Council is the proper place to decide on action against Libya, Canada said Tuesday as G8 countries refused to support a no-fly zone proposed by France and Britain.
"It's clear that there is a need to provide a response through the UN Security Council, a response that will be effective diplomatically, involving the Arab League and other partners," Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said as G8 foreign ministers wrapped a two-day meeting in Paris.
The carnage in Libya dominated the two days of discussion, but host France was unable to marshal support for the no-fly proposal. Along with Britain, France proposed the intervention to halt the advance of Moammar Gadhafi's forces, which are winning back territory with tanks, warships and artillery from badly-outgunned rebel forces.
The Arab League backed the rebel pleas and called Saturday for a no-fly zone to stop government jets and to create safe zones for civilians.
Canada entered the G8 meeting with all options open -- including further sanctions and possible support for the no-fly zone -- but left by agreeing to push the matter over to the UN's most powerful body.
"It's up to the Arab League and other partners and the international community as a whole to take action -- act as soon as possible so as to put an end to this violence that is currently taking place," Cannon said.
In their final communique, the G8 foreign ministers said Gadhafi must leave power, warning he will face "dire consequences" if he doesn't honour the basic rights of the Libyan people, including freedom of expression and representative government.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said he hopes the Security Council will take action this week to help opposition forces.
"What allowed the Gadhafi regime to tip the balance between its opposition and itself was the use of air power. Had it not been able to bomb a number of military and civilian sites, well Gadhafi would not have regained the upper hand," said Juppe.
"We British and French envisaged proposing to our partners not a no-fly zone -- contrary to what some have said -- but the use of air power for targeted strikes on air strips or the Libyan regime's 20 aircraft. This proposal wasn't implemented."
Juppe said the Security Council could strengthen sanctions, establish a humanitarian aid zone, or impose a maritime embargo.
A draft resolution was expected to be circulated among the Security Council's five permanent and 10-temporary members as early as Tuesday.
Canada won't play a part in that next step because it failed to win a temporary two-year term on the Security Council last fall -- a first in the history of the country.
Canada's G8 ally Russia -- also a veto-wielding permanent Security Council member -- remained skeptical of the no-fly option.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his country wanted more details from the Arab League about its proposals for Libya before approving any military intervention.
"Once we have all that information we will be looking at all of the options," Lavrov said.
Cannon headed to Egypt on Tuesday to meet with reformers and members of the country's new cabinet. Sources said he was expected to announce funding for democracy-building efforts.
With files from The Associated Press