International

NATO Calls For More War Planes For Operation In Libya

NATO's Secretary General said the alliance needs more jets to target more of Moammar Gadhafi's ground forces in Libya.

Bloomberg reports:

"We need a few more precision-fighter ground-attack aircraft for air-to-ground missions," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today at a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 28 foreign ministers and leaders from other allied nations in Berlin.

The call for more warplanes, which Rasmussen said wasn't directed at a specific alliance member, comes 10 days after the U.S. largely withdrew its ground-attack planes operating over Libya. U.S. and French officials said that their governments don't plan to offer additional warplanes and that it is up to other allies to help.

The AFP reports that the alliance said it would keep attacking government forces as long as it takes to topple Gadhafi, but Rasmussen said none of the 28 nations offered up "specific pledges" though "I've heard indications that give me hope."

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said the United States will continue to support the mission as long as it takes. Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said it was time for nations that had not contributed to help.

Spain said it would not do more than abide by the arms embargo.

The NATO foreign ministers did find common ground when they called on Gadhafi to step down:

"On Libya we have to be honest ... We have the same objective, and this objective is to allow the Libyan people to enjoy democratic freedoms," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters.

Update at 10:30 p.m. ET. Leaders Of The U.S., Britain And France Call For Gadhafi To Step Down:

Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have written a joint editorial published by New York Times today and the International Herald Tribune, tomorrow.

In it, the leaders repeat what their foreign ministers iterated at the NATO meeting today: That while the goal of the mission in Libya is not to remove Gadhafi from power, a free Libya can't exist with Gadhafi in power. So the leaders said their countries will continue the attacks:

There is a pathway to peace that promises new hope for the people of Libya — a future without Qaddafi that preserves Libya's integrity and sovereignty, and restores her economy and the prosperity and security of her people. This needs to begin with a genuine end to violence, marked by deeds not words. The regime has to pull back from the cities it is besieging, including Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zintan, and return to their barracks. However, so long as Qaddafi is in power, NATO must maintain its operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds. Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders. In order for that transition to succeed, Qaddafi must go and go for good. At that point, the United Nations and its members should help the Libyan people as they rebuild where Qaddafi has destroyed — to repair homes and hospitals, to restore basic utilities, and to assist Libyans as they develop the institutions to underpin a prosperous and open society.

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