Time to abolish no-fly zone over Libya – Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that the time has come to abolish the no-fly zone over Libya.

­“We think that additional steps, including the cancellation of the no-fly zone, should be taken,” Lavrov stated during a speech to the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

The UN Security Council, he added, should play the leading role in the post-conflict peaceful settlement.

“The UN Security Council must have the leading role in the elaboration of the parameters of the post-conflict settlement in Libya,” Lavrov said. “That is the purpose of UN Security Council resolution 2009 of September 2011, which established a support mission to Libya.”

Lavrov also addressed the broader wave of change sweeping across the Middle East.

“The situation in the Arab world is the focus of attention,” he said. “Russia condemns violence against civilian populations, and supports the wish of Arab peoples for renovation of their states, their democratic development and socioeconomic prosperity.”

Lavrov stressed that “external forces” should act in accordance with international law. Their actions should “assist the search for political solutions of the authorities and the opposition.”

“It is impermissible to exceed the limits of the mandates issued by the UN Security Council, which undermines its authority and multiplies the suffering of average people,” he warned.

In his speech Lavrov also touched upon the problems in Kosovo, where the NATO peacekeeping force KFOR clashed with ethnic Serbs on the Serbian-Kosovo border on Tuesday.

He called for international forces to be stationed on the border in order to ensure compliance with UN Security Council resolution 1244.

The situation on the border between Serbia and Kosovo heated up in mid-September, when Pristina sent police and customs officials to two northern police checkpoints previously staffed primarily by ethnic Serbs.

At the UN, Lavrov also reaffirmed Russia’s position on the Palestinians’ bid for statehood.

He said Moscow welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s readiness to negotiate with Israel on an “international legal basis.”

“The only reasonable basis for a settlement [is to] coexist in peace and security,” Lavrov said.

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