France’s Juppe says political solution key for Libya

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Thursday that the West must work harder for a political solution in Libya but the outside world should also do more to support rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi.

“Gaddafi has clearly lost all legitimacy, his camp is disintegrating and we are seeing new defections every day. On the other hand his force and rebel forces continue to fight each other without any side winning,” Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

“In this very indecisive context, it is more necessary than ever to look for a political solution and that is what we are working on today,” he told a Senate hearing.

NATO is coordinating coalition air strikes spearheaded three weeks ago by France, but little headway is being made on uprooting Gaddafi from power and government troops are holding Misrata, Libya’s third city, under siege.

Gaddafi’s use of deadly force against civilians in past weeks triggered a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing air strikes against his army and NATO now accuses him of using human shields to make it harder for its warplanes to reach targets.

Juppe, whose government was the first to come out and back Libya’s rebel council, said the group’s pledge to respect human rights meant the outside world should offer it more support.

He said France was pushing for representatives of the opposition Provisional National Transition Council to address a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.

“These reflections should also allow us to reinforce the national transition council which is fighting for democracy and freedom,” he said. “We should reinforce it because nobody in the zone controlled by revolutionaries contests its legitimacy.”

It was not clear whether he was referring to logistical, financial or military support, as the coalition has still not agreed whether to send arms to the rebels.

(Reporting by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Jonathan Lynn)

France’s Juppe says political solution key for Libya