India abstains on resolution authorising use of force in Libya

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United Nations, Mar 18: India, along with four other members of the UN Security Council, abstained from the voting on a resolution that approves a no-fly zone over Libya and authorises "all necessary measures" for protecting civilians there from Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

Ten of the 15-member body voted in favour of the resolution, but five nations - China, Russia (which have veto power) and non-permanent members India, Germany and Brazil - abstained from voting.

"This resolution calls for far-reaching measures but we never got answers to very basic questions," Indian envoy to UN Hardeep Singh Puri told PTI.

This entire exercise has been based on less than complete information. China's top diplomat in the UN Li Baodong also had similar apprehensions. "Many of those questions failed to be clarified or answered," Li told UNSC after the vote.

Last week, the Arab League called for a no-fly zone to be established in Libya and the resolution, co-authored by Britain and France, was tabled by Lebanon on Tuesday.

"We cannot let these war-mongers do this," Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, told the Security Council.

"We have very little time... we should not arrive too late." But, India and other members of the Council voiced concerns about the absence of specific details on creating a no-fly zone as well as the lack of clarity on the source of assets for its implementation.

"Passing a resolution is an interactive process...if countries have doubts...you try to remove them," Puri said.

"I'm afraid that the two countries leading the process (UK and France) did not make the required effort." Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, clarified that it was impossible to answer all the questions given that the Council had to act quickly. "We spent many hours going over these issues," she told reporters.

The current resolution also calls for an immediate ceasefire, which Russia had earlier proposed as a smaller resolution. But it never came to a vote because key countries felt that only a ceasefire resolution lacked teeth and would not deter Gaddafi.

Vitaly Churkin, the Russian envoy, warned outside force could destabilise the Middle East and North African region and described the resolution as "unfortunate and regrettable."

" The action came as the Libyan leader threatened to launch the final attack to push out rebels from Benghazi, the second largest city of the country. "We are coming tonight," Gaddafi has told rebel forces. "There won't be any mercy."

PTI

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