Libya declares ceasefire, but sad over UN decision (Lead)

March 18th, 2011 - 8:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Tripoli/Cairo, March 18 (IANS) The Libyan government Friday decided to halt all military operations against rebels in line with a UN resolution that imposed a no-fly zone over the North African country, but Foreign Minister Moussa Kusa stressed “great sadness” over the Security Council’s decision.

Announcing an immediate ceasefire on all military operations against rebels, Kusa said: “We also express great sadness towards imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, including civil aviation.”

Speaking at a press briefing in the capital Tripoli, Kusa also said Libya was open to a dialogue with opposition forces, DPA reported.

On Thursday, after weeks of discussions, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya’s airspace and authorised “all necessary means” to implement the ban.

The UN move and the support of Arab governments for the measure provided the two key conditions the NATO asked for before it would enter the fray against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

In an unusual action, the council authorised not only organisations but also individual countries working together to use “all necessary means” to take action to end Gaddafi’s military crackdown on civilian protesters.

The announcement of a ceasefire came after the international community Friday began discussing all measures, including military action, against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces to enforce a no-fly zone.

The US and European officials said air attacks against Gaddafi’s forces were possible “within hours”, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

On Thursday, the UN Security Council called for other “necessary measures” to protect the civilians in Libya. The resolution, however, excluded “an occupation force” in Libya.

The resolution was adopted with 10 voting in favour and five abstentions, Xinhua reported.

On Thursday, the 15-member Security Council had voted 10-0 to authorise the no-fly zone in the north African country.

While India, China, Brazil, Germany and Russia abstained, the measure was backed by Bosnia, Colombia, France, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Britain and the US.

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