French government says Libya operation to start rapidly

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March 18, 2011, 10:28 a.m. | World — by Reuters

Men from Ghana, who used to work in Libya and fled the unrest in the country, carry their belongings as they arrive in a refugee camp at the Tunisia-Libyan border, in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, Thursday, March 17, 2011. More than 250,000 migrant workers have left Libya for neighboring countries, primarily Tunisia and Egypt, in the past three weeks.
© AP


PARIS, March 18 (Reuters) - France could start military operations against Libya in a matter of hours after the U.N. Security Council authorised action, government spokesman Francois Baroin said on March 18. "The French, who led the calls (for action), will of course be consistent with military intervention," Baroin told RTL radio. "The strikes will take place quickly."

Asked to specify what that meant, he said France would "participate" in operations and stressed the action would be to aid a rebel uprising and would not mean an occupation of the North African oil producer.

The U.N. Security council authorised late on Thursday a no-fly zone over Libya and military strikes to curb the advance of Muammar Gaddafi's forces, hours after the Libyan leader threatened to storm the rebel bastion of Benghazi. French diplomatic sources have said that Britain, possibly the United States and one or more Arab states could join the operation, and that Paris wants to host a three-way meeting as early as Saturday between high-level representatives of the European Union, African Union and Arab League.
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