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Libya revolt: UK and France seek to up Gaddafi pressure

    Opposition fighters in Libya Opposition fighters have called for a no-fly zone in Libya to prevent attacks on them The UK and France have sought to ramp up the pressure on Col Gaddafi ahead of Friday's EU summit, saying the Libyan leader has "lost any legitimacy". Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for an immediate halt to violence against civilians and for the regime to leave.
    But they made clear any foreign action within Libya, including a no-fly zone, would take place only if it was legal and got wide international support.
    Fierce battles continue in the country.
    EU leaders will meet to discuss the crisis in Brussels as pro-Gaddafi forces are wresting back control of territory previously held by the opposition following a major military offensive.
    'Waging war' The UK has accused the Gaddafi regime of "waging war against their own people", using aircraft and helicopters to mount attacks.
    London and Paris are trying to build support for a UN resolution to authorise a no-fly zone in Libya, which they say is an absolute prerequisite for such action, alongside the support of the international community - particularly the Arab world - and a "demonstrable" case for intervention.
    It is clear to us that the regime has lost any legitimacy it may have once had”
    End Quote David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy
    "We support continued planning to be ready to provide support for all possible contingencies as the situation evolves," Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy wrote in a letter to the president of the European Council. "This could include a no-fly zone or other options against air attacks."
    After meeting on Thursday, Nato defence ministers said further planning was needed on how to initiate and enforce any potential air exclusion zone in Libya and that this could only happen with a "clear mandate" from the UN - likely to need US, Chinese and Russian support.
    Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy called again for an immediate stop to government attacks on civilians and said members of the regime would be held accountable for their actions.
    "The world is witnessing on a daily basis an unacceptable continuation of violence and repression in Libya," they added. "It is clear to us that the regime has lost any legitimacy it may have once had.
    "To stop further suffering of the Libyan people, Muammar Gaddafi and his clique should leave."
    The two men also called for strict enforcement of the arms embargo against Libya and for the UN to closely monitor the humanitarian situation in the country.
    Nato caution Despite agreeing to move warships closer to the Mediterranean, Nato officials said they had not discussed direct military intervention in Libya on Thursday. There have been reports that France backs targeted air strikes on strategic military installations vital to the regime.
    Foreign Secretary William Hague talked to a senior member of the Libyan opposition on Thursday and has pledged further dialogue although the UK - unlike France - has not recognised the Interim National Council established by anti-government forces as the official representatives of the Libyan people.
    "France and the UK are committed to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya," the two leaders' letter continued. "When the Libyan people win their fundamental rights, we should be ready to support them with the necessary assistance and co-operation."
    But the government is still under domestic pressure over its handling of the crisis in Libya, with Labour urging Mr Hague to "get a grip" on events after criticism of initial delays to the evacuation of British citizens from Libya and the botched diplomatic mission to Benghazi.
    "I am not calling on him to resign but I am asking him to raise his level of performance," Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander told the BBC's Question Time Show on Thursday.
    Mr Hague was "palpably an intelligent, substantial figure", Mr Alexander said, but the government had to be held to account for their response to the momentous events happening in the region.
    "I don't think the issue is his intellect or his commitment," Mr Alexander added. "It is just the judgements he has been making. Government is tough."

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Libya revolt: UK and France seek to up Gaddafi pressure

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