Norway opposed to arming Libyan rebels

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway said providing arms to support the uprising in Libya would violate the United Nations resolution authorizing limited action against Muammar Gaddafi.

“We will not contribute to arming the rebels,” said Minister of Defense Grete Faremo, who last week dispatched six Norwegian F-16 fighter jets to help an international coalition to prevent Gaddafi’s forces from harming civilians.

In the interview with state broadcaster NRK, Faremo added: “The goal of both the UN resolution and the operation is to protect civilians, and we believe the resolution is not consistent with providing weapons to rebels.”

Many anti-Gaddafi fighters are calling on the United States and other coalition nations to send them arms as Libyan government forces move against rebel-held areas in the east of the country.

“We are sitting with an unclear picture of who it is these rebel groups are,” said Faremo.

She did not say whether NATO member Norway would withdraw its military air support if it believed the UN Security Council’s resolution authorizing force to protect Libyan civilians was overstepped.

President Barack Obama said this week that the United States had not ruled out providing military hardware to the rebels. Nor has Britain.

(Editing by Jon Hemming)

Norway opposed to arming Libyan rebels