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EU tries to find Libyan solution

EU foreign ministers are trying to work out a political solution to the Libyan conflict, as well as post-war planning to ensure the country does not descend into chaos.

Nato, commanding the international campaign to protect civilians from the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, has been intensifying its airstrikes on Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

But the military alliance has been forced twice in recent days to acknowledge that its strikes have gone wrong, each time causing unintended casualties.

However Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal said progress was being made.

"Gaddafi is desperate," he said. "We are squeezing his regime and stepping up the pressure by additional sanctions. This is a matter of patience and resolve and the Libyan people will prevail."

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has expressed concern about post-war stability in Libya if planning is not done and help is not rendered.

She has said a successful post-conflict period in North Africa will require what she calls the three M's: money, market access and mobility. She wants Europe to contribute billions to develop the economies of Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. Meanwhile Libya claimed a Nato airstrike on a large family compound belonging to a close associate of Gaddafi has killed at least 15 people, including three children, west of Tripoli.

But Nato said it had not conducted any strikes in that area in the past 24 hours.

Gaddafi's regime has repeatedly accused Nato of targeting civilians in an attempt to rally support against the alliance's intervention in the country's civil war. Nato has repeatedly insisted it tries to avoid killing civilians.


From Belfast Telegraph