India regrets air strikes over Libya

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SM Krishna
New Delhi, Mar 21: Regretting air strikes over Libya, India today called upon all parties to abjure use of violence saying the need of the hour was "cessation of armed conflict" in the North African country.

"We view with grave concern the ongoing violence, strikes and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya. We regret the air strikes that are taking place," External Affairs Minister SM Krishna told reporters here.

"India calls upon all parties to abjure violence and the use of threat and force to resolve the differences. I think the need of the hour is cessation of armed conflict," he added.

The Minister said India believes that all parties and stakeholders should engage themselves in a peaceful dialogue through United Nations and other regional organisations and come to a settlement.

Krishna said the "air strikes will lead to harm to innocent civilians, foreign nationals and diplomatic missions and their personnel, who are still in Libya."

On whether India was talking to the countries involved in attacking Libyan military targets, the Minister said, "At various levels, India, where its voice counts, we have taken it up and continue to exert whatever influence we have on the international fora to prevent further escalation of violence and conflict in Libya." "But at the same time, respecting the aspirations of the people of Libya," he added.

Forces of countries including France, the US and Britain yesterday started aerial operations against Libyan defence targets with cruise missiles and launched air attacks as Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to open his arms depots to the people to retaliate against the Western "aggression".

On whether the Government was taking any steps to protect Indians in countries such as Bahrain and Yemen, Krishna said, "The welfare and well being of Indians in these countries (Bahrain, Yemen) is uppermost in our agenda. We are closely monitoring developments in these countries."

"As and when the developments take place and as and when we feel it is no longer safe for Indians to continue there, then we will take the necessary followup action," he added.

PTI

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