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Leaders Seek Path to Peace in Libya
President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy say they are working to find a pathway for peace in Libya even as NATO-led military operations continue to protect the civilian population from attack by
President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy say they are working to find a pathway for peace in Libya even as NATO-led military operations continue to protect the civilian population from attack by Libyan government forces.

"We must never forget the reasons why the international community was obliged to act in the first place," the three world leaders wrote in a newspaper editorial published April 15, 2011.

"As Libya descended into chaos with Colonel Muammar el-Qadhafi attacking his own people, the Arab League called for action. The Libyan opposition called for help," they wrote. "And the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need."

The U.N. Security Council voted 10-0 with five abstentions March 17 to authorize the use of all means necessary to stop the government military forces from attacking the Libyan people. The resolution, UNSCR 1973, also includes a demand for an immediate cease-fire and a no-fly zone over Libya, and for international humanitarian assistance to be delivered in areas of the country attacked by the government.

The U.N. resolution came after the Arab League voted March 12 for a no-fly zone over Libya to protect human lives.

NATO agreed March 27 to take command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and no-fly zone imposed by the resolution. NATO also agreed to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians.

"By responding immediately, our countries, together with an international coalition, halted the advance of Qadhafi's forces and prevented the bloodbath that he had promised to inflict upon the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi," the leaders wrote. Benghazi has been the center of the opposition movement that has sought to topple the 42-year-old Qadhafi regime.

Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy said that even though efforts have been made to thwart Qadhafi's forces and tens of thousands of ordinary Libyans have been protected, "the people of Libya are still suffering terrible horrors at Qadhafi's hands each and every day."

The U.N. mandate does not call for the international community to remove Qadhafi by force, they said. But they added that "any deal that leaves him in power would lead to further chaos and lawlessness."

"There is a pathway to peace that promises new hope for the people of Libya -- a future without Qadhafi that preserves Libya's integrity and sovereignty, and restores her economy and the prosperity and security of her people," they wrote.

First, the leaders said, all government forces must pull back from cities they have been besieging -- including Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zintan -- and return to garrison. NATO forces will maintain operations to protect civilians and to build pressure on the regime, they said.

Then, they said, a transition can begin from the dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process, led by a new generation of leaders.

"In order for that transition to succeed, Qadhafi must go and go for good," the three leaders wrote. "At that point, the United Nations and its members should help the Libyan people as they rebuild where Qadhafi has destroyed."

The editorial written by Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy appeared in the International Herald Tribune, Le Figaro and the Times of London.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)
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