France and Britain seek support for no-fly zone


France and Britain on Monday sought to galvanize international support for military intervention to contain Muammer Gaddafi.

As the United Nations Security Council met in New York for a closed-door discussion on the Libyan crisis, France said it hoped Arab League backing for a no-fly zone would persuade reluctant members to support a resolution authorizing military intervention.

“Now that there is this Arab League statement, we do hope that it’s a game-changer for the other members of the council,” Gérard Araud, French ambassador to the UN, said before the meeting. “We do hope that these consultations will allow us, later on this week, to work on the resolution.”

But Washington, whose support would be essential, maintains deep reservations about such an action, which many officials say might prove ineffective and risk drawing the US into a war in another Muslim-majority country. The Pentagon is particularly sceptical and the White House says a no-fly zone is a subject for contingency planning, rather than immediate action.

Some diplomats add that the UK has been caught between France and the US, with the British military sharing some US doubts about the effectiveness of a no-fly zone, despite support for the idea from David Cameron, British prime minister.

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