Russia to remove diplomats from Libya

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it would cut the number of diplomats at its Tripoli embassy in the near future.

“We do not speak of evacuation, we use the fashionable word optimization: cutting the number of employees,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said. “We will speak about these plans in more detail soon.”

On March 17, the UN Security Council imposed a no-fly zone over Libya allowing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians from leader Muammar Gaddafi’s attacks on rebel-held towns. Russia and four other countries abstained from the vote.

The operation to enforce the no-fly zone regime, codenamed Odyssey Dawn, is conducted jointly by 13 states, including the United States, Britain and France. Libyan state television has reported that at least 60 civilians have been killed and over 150 wounded by the attacks.

Lukashevich said President Dmitry Medvedev has set the task of ensuring security for Russian diplomats in Libya.

The Pentagon said on Wednesday that the 13-nation alliance had flown more than 300 sorties over the North African country, and fired 162 Tomahawk missiles at Libyan territory.

MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti)

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