Gaddafi. Ready for ceasefire?
Photo: Reuters
Libyan rebels
Photo: Reuters
Barack Obama
Photo: AP

Deputy minister: Libya ready for ceasefire

Rebels celebrate UN vote authorizing airstrikes to halt Gaddafi offensive. Deputy FM says Libya wants to discuss how ceasefire will be implemented. Jordan may join int'l forces

The UN Security Council cleared the way for air strikes to halt Muammar Gaddafi's assault on embattled rebels in Libya, sparking wild celebratory gunfire in rebel bastion Benghazi.


In Benghazi in the east, Libya's second city and stronghold of the month-long rebellion against Gadddafi's iron-fisted four-decade rule, celebratory gunfire rang out moments after the UN vote.


Preachers in mosques in the Mediterranean city used loudspeakers to shout "God is greatest, God is greatest."


Libya is ready for a ceasefire with the rebels battling Gaddafi, but wants to discuss how it will be implemented, deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaaim says.


"We are ready for this decision (a ceasefire) but we require an interlocutor to discuss how to implement it," Kaaim told a news conference shortly after the UN Security Council voted to permit "all necessary measures" to impose a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire.


"We discussed last night with the UN envoy (for Libya, Jordan's Abdul Ilah Khatib) and asked legitimate questions on the application of a ceasefire," he said.


Kaaim indicated that Libya would "react positively to the UN resolution, and we will prove this willingness while guaranteeing protection to civilians."

Rebels in Libya. Celebrate UN decision (Photo: AP)


The Security Council authorized air strikes to halt Gaddafi's offensive against embattled rebel forces in the North African country, with the first bombing raids possible within hours.


Saif al-Islam, one of Muammar Gaddafi's sons was quoted as saying Libya was not afraid of the UN resolution.


American broadcaster CNN also reports Gaddafi has changed tact with "a humanitarian gesture", deciding to hold off on plans to send the army in to Benghazi and mercilessly crush all resistance, as had been promised.


"I just took a phone call from one of Gaddafi's sons, Seif (al-Islam). This is the message from the leadership," the CNN correspondent in Tripoli said.


"He said they're going to change the tactics around Benghazi, that the army is not going to go into Benghazi.


"It's going to take up positions around the stronghold.


"The reason is they expect a humanitarian exodus."

Security Council. Air strike could begin Sunday (Photo: AFP)


US President Barack Obama called French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron Thursday to coordinate Libya strategy.


US officials speaking after a closed-door briefing in Congress said the attempt to ground Gaddafi's air force could begin by Sunday or Monday with the use of jet fighters, bombers and surveillance aircraft.


"The leaders agreed that Libya must immediately comply with all terms of the resolution and that violence against the civilian population of Libya must cease," the White House said in a statement.


Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will join international forces ready to enforce the no-fly zone, US Congress and UN diplomatic sources say.


The European Union welcomed the UN resolution and the head of the European Parliament, Poland's Jerzy Buzek, said "there was no time to waste" to enforce it.


Tracer bullets streaked across the night sky and anti-aircraft fire punctuated the sound of car horns.


Gaddafi, in a televised address, had warned just hours before the vote that his forces would attack Benghazi on Thursday night and show "no mercy."


AFP and Reuters contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 03.18.11, 08:37
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