Russia and US continue a dialogue on Libya

Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdiukov has called to refrain from violence in Libya and the head of the Pentagon Robert Gates has promised to him that active attacks will subside in the near future. The Russian defence minister and US defence secretary had a detailed discussion of the situation in North Africa in Moscow.

Russia and a number of other countries abstained from voting on carrying out a military operation in Libya at the UN Security Council. On the contrary, the USA, France, the UK and Italy are playing a very active part in it. Defence Minister Anatoly Serdiukov has voiced Russia’s view of the situation in Libya.

“Russia has joined the demand for putting  an end to violence against the civilian population in that country. We proceed from the notion that the authority granted by UN Security Council Resolution 1973 stipulates only measures of defending the civilian population and prevention of the escalation of the conflict. Unfortunately, recent events show that full-scale hostilities are under way in that country, which have damaged civilian targets and killed people. This must not have been allowed. We have brought this to our American colleagues’ attention.”

During the talks the US defence secretary assured his Russian counterpart that the pace of the operation in Libya will slow down in the next few days.

Gates’ voice with interpreter:

“I have assured Defence Minister Serdiukov that the actions of the coalition fully comply with the UN Security Council’s resolution. They are aimed at the establishment of a no-fly zone for Libyan air force and defence of the civilian population. The resolution adopted by the League of Arab States and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf testifies that those countries have realised that Gaddafi is killing his own population. The coalition is doing everything possible to avoid victims among the civilian population.”

Gates completely shared Serdiukov’s view that Libya’s future is the Libyan people’s affair. The Russian minister sees the shortest way to the Libyan people’s security and the stabilization of the situation in that country in an immediate ceasefire and the beginning of a dialogue.

Russia’s opinion may be discussed at the forthcoming session of the UN Security Council, which is to be held on Thursday – a week after the resolution allowing a foreign military operation in Libya was adopted.

The defence minister and defence secretary also dwelled on the problem of Afghanistan. Today there is a new reason to speak about NATO activities in that country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that national law enforcers will be responsible for providing security in a number of provinces in that country starting from July this year. According to Serdiukov, Russia is interested in the success of coalition forces and the stabilization of the situation in that country. Gates pointed out Russia’s assistance in providing the transit of military cargoes and deliveries of helicopters for the Afghan army.

Another item on the agenda was anti-missile defence. Serdiukov and Gates admit that there are still differences on this subject. Neither Russia nor the USA has definite unambiguous answers to all questions. Anyway, discussions continue.

In the evening Robert gates was received by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. They discussed the most important issues of bilateral cooperation in military engineering, defence and security.

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