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Allies work on Nato Libya role

A defiant Muammar Gaddafi has promised victory over the international coalition amid continued wrangling about who will take command of enforcing the no-fly zone.

In a televised address on Tuesday night, the Libyan dictator said: "In the short term, we'll beat them, in the long term, we'll beat them."

In a speech thought to have been delivered at his residential compound near Tripoli, which was hit by an allied cruise missile on Sunday, Gaddafi declared the attacks breached the United Nations charter and were "by a bunch of fascists".

It came as US President Barack Obama agreed with Prime Minister David Cameron that Nato should play a "key role" in the allied enforcement of the UN mandate.

The alliance has agreed to lead efforts to ensure an arms embargo is observed and has drawn up plans "if needed" to take charge of the no-fly zone. However Nato ambassadors meeting in Brussels have so far failed to agree whether it should take over when the United States relinquishes command in the next few days.

Mr Cameron has argued for a Nato operation, telling the Commons that the alliance had a "tried and tested machinery" for running such a complex multi-national mission.

France however has warned that putting Nato in charge would alienate Arab countries and risk undermining the cohesion of the international consensus behind the no-fly zone. Turkey, the only alliance member which is predominantly Muslim, has also expressed concern that the air attacks and missile strikes carried out by the coalition of Britain, France and the US went beyond the UN mandate.

In phone calls from Air Force One, Mr Obama spoke with both the Prime Minister and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in an effort to secure progress. The Prime Minister's spokesman suggested that a wider group of countries would have to be involved than just the Nato member states.

With Britain anxious to secure Arab participation in the no-fly zone operation, Mr Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague both met Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al Faisal.

The Saudi minister "expressed strong support" for the aims of the UN resolution "and the steps being taken by the international community to enforce it", Number 10 said.


From Belfast Telegraph