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Sarkozy hits at US Libya stance

French president Nicolas Sarkozy has criticised the low US profile in the international campaign in Libya, saying that France and Britain are carrying most of the burden.

He said they would continue the campaign until Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi leaves.

While other European leaders pushed for some kind of political solution in Libya, the French leader strongly defended the Nato-led military operation - and Nato itself.

He rejected comments by US Defence Minister Robert Gates that the alliance's future could be in doubt because of European reluctance to exercise military might.

"I wouldn't say that the bulk of the work in Libya is being done by our American friends," Mr Sarkozy told reporters in Brussels at a European Union summit.

"The French and English and their allies are doing the work."

The United States has insisted on a backseat role in Libya. It led the initial coalition airstrikes in March, but in April withdrew US forces from the direct combat role, limiting them to battlefield surveillance, aerial refuelling and other support roles.

Seven Nato members are now participating in air strikes: Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Italy. But, as Mr Gates said, most of Nato's 28 members, including Germany, have refused to join the strike mission in Libya.

Mr Sarkozy would not give a timeline for an eventual end to the three-month-old air campaign, saying that would play into Gaddafi's hands and "I don't think that would be constructive."

"Things are progressing. I would have liked them to progress more quickly, but they are progressing," he said. "We must continue until Mr Gaddafi leaves."


From Belfast Telegraph