World powers in Paris to hammer out Libya plan

Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron, Hillary Clinton, as well as representatives of the Arab League and the African Union, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon are gathering in Paris on Saturday to discuss UN-sanctioned military action in Libya.

US president Barack Obama issued an ultimatum to Muammar Gaddafi to immediately stop all attacks against civilians or face military action sanctioned by UN resolution.

Obama said the terms of the ultimatum are not subject to negotiation.

“Ample warning was given that Gaddafi needed to stop his campaign of repression or be held accountable. The Arab League and the European Union joined us in calling for an end to violence. Once again, Gaddafi chose to ignore the will of his people and the international community. Instead he launched a military campaign against his own people,” Obama said and concluded:

“Let me be clear – these terms are not negotiable. If Gaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action.”

France, the UK and Arab countries backed the US warning.

On Friday, Libyan Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa said that they had decided on an immediate ceasefire, and pledged that the government will do its best to ensure peace and order in the country and protect human rights.

Nevertheless, there are conflicting reports as to whether violence in Libya continues, following the ultimatum.

The Gaddafi regime say that they are enforcing the ceasefire with immediate effect. 

Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera TV reported on Saturday that Gaddafi’s troops have entered Benghazi, the main stronghold of the Libyan rebels, adding that the attack was preceded by massive shelling and air strikes, and fighter aircraft keep on flying over Benghazi. A fighter jet was reportedly shot down over the city on Saturday.

Watch footage of the plane being shot down

Hundreds of people are said to be fleeing Benghazi.

Rebels also say that after the ceasefire was announced, the fighting continued in the town of Zintan in the west, and in the eastern town of Ajdabiya as well as in Misrata.

The Gaddafi regime blames the rebels for breaking the ceasefire. According to deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim, armed militants opened fire near the town of Al-Magrun, 80km south of Benghazi.

The military operation against the Gaddafi regime may start within hours of the summit, said French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud, Itar-Tass news agency reports.

British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier said that he has given the order for Typhoon and Tornado jets to be sent to enforce the no-fly zone in Libya, and France says that it is ready for any kind of military strikes.

The US already has five warships in the Mediterranean, although the Americans made it clear they do not want to lead the no-fly zone operation – they will be just participating.

“The United States is prepared to act as part of an international coalition. American leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone,” Barack Obama said as quoted by AFP news agency.

Canada says it is ready to deploy warships to the region as well.

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