Clinton in Cairo - Reuters - March 15, 2011
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a news conference with Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby in Cairo March 15, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Despite embattled leader Muammar Gadhafi's announcement of a cease-fire in Libya Friday, world leaders are not entirely convinced that this is a strong enough step to warrant the cancellation of the no-fly zone decided upon by the UN Security Council on Thursday.

Clinton said on Friday the United States was not impressed by words of cease-fire from the Libyan government and would keep pressing for leader Muammar Gadhafi to step down. Other leaders have expressed similar sentiments.

Libya has been engulfed by protests for the past month, and Gadhafi forces have responded brutally to the rebels' revolts. The international community has been disputed on how best to respond to the Libyan leaderships' harsh crackdown and serious infringement of human rights.

The UN Security Council, meeting in an emergency session on Thursday, passed a resolution endorsing a no-fly zone to halt government troops now around 100 kilometers from Benghazi. It also authorized "all necessary measures" - code for military action - to protect civilians against Gadhafi's forces.

In response, Libya declared a ceasefire in the country and will comply with a United Nations resolution passed overnight, Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said on Friday. The conciliatory message was in sharp contrast to comments made by Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi just before the UN vote, in which he said that forces loyal to him would mercilessly attack rebels.

"We decided on an immediate ceasefire and on an immediate stop to all military operations," he told reporters. "(Libya) takes great interest in protecting civilians," he said, adding that the country would also protect all foreigners and foreign assets in Libya.

The ceasefire offer was probably prompted by Gadhafi's realisation that air strikes could seriously degrade the Libyan military, said John Drake, senior risk consultant at AKE.

When asked about the cease-fire declaration, Clinton said "we are going to be not responsive or impressed by words, we would have to see actions on the ground and that is not yet at all clear," speaking with reporters after meeting with Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore.

"We will continue to work with our partners in the international community to press Gadhafi to leave and to support the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people," she said.

Clinton said the U.N. resolution passed Thursday was only one step and the international community would continue to consider options.

"While this resolution is an important step, it is only that, an important step," she said, adding that "we and our partners will continue to explore the most effective measures to end this crisis."

Other countries have expressed similar sentiments to those of Clinton. A French spokesman said in his response that "we have to be very cautious. He [Gadhafi] is now starting to be afraid, but on the ground the threat has not changed."

Britain, who like France is a strong advocate of armed intervention in Libya, said it would judge Gadhafi by "actions, not his words".

"Britain will deploy Tornadoes and Typhoons as well as air-to-air refuelling and surveillance aircraft," Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament.

The British prime minister continued, saying "Preparations to deploy these aircraft have already started and in the coming hours they will move to airbases from where they can start to take the necessary action."

Gulf state Qatar said it would take part but it was unclear whether that meant military help, while Italy said it would make military bases, equipment and troops available.

Denmark and Canada said they planned to contribute warplanes. France is to host talks on Saturday to discuss the action with British, Arab League and other leaders.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced Friday that representatives of the European Union, United Nations and the African Union are to meet in Paris on Saturday to further discuss the Libyan crisis.

"Tonight, I will travel to Paris where I will meet tomorrow, we hope, with Ban Ki-moon, certainly with Amr Moussa of the Arab League and Jean Ping of the African Union," Ashton told a news conference in Brussels.

She said French President Nicolas Sarkozy would host the meeting. Separate reports from London indicated that British Prime Minister David Cameron would also be in the French capital on the same day.

EU states are divided over the question of military action. While France and Britain sponsored the United Nations Security Council resolution that on Thursday authorized the no-fly zone, but EU heavyweight Germany abstained in the vote.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who will be meeting with multiple key officials while in Paris, said he planned to discuss "ways to move forward to protect the people of Libya" following the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 1973 on Thursday imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.

Ban hailed the adoption of the no-fly zone resolution as an "historic decision," authorizing UN members and organizations to take forceful actions to protect civilians against Muammar Gadhafi's military forces.

"Given the critical situation on the ground, I expect immediate action on the resolution's provisions," Ban said late Thursday after the council adopted with a 10-0 vote the no-fly zone resolution.

"I am prepared to carry out my responsibilities as mandated in the resolution, and will work closely with member states and regional organizations to coordinate a common, effective and timely response," he said.

The resolution asked countries and organizations that intend to implement the resolution to notify and coordinate their activities with Ban.