France says Libya strikes to increase

NATO should increase military pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi despite the concerns of the BRICS nations, French officials say.

NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Berlin on Thursday amid deepening divisions over the UN-mandated airstrikes against Gaddafi's forces to protect Libyan civilians.

Earlier, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the leaders of the BRICS nations - Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa - believe the situation in Libya should be resolved through diplomatic means.

Speaking after a BRICS summit in the southern China resort of Sanya, Medvedev spoke out against "arbitrary interpretations" of the UN Security Council's resolutions on Libya.

"We presume that the UN Security Council's resolutions must be implemented...in accordance with their spirit and to their letter, but not in accordance with arbitrary interpretations which have been made by several states," the Russian president said.

Dozens of rebels opposing Gaddafi have been killed by NATO-led airstrikes that began last month.

But France, which has taken the lead role in Libya, says military pressure should be stepped up.

"Precision air strikes against the military equipment that allows Gaddafi to terrorize the people should continue," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters in Paris.

He said the decision was approved by the newly formed international contact group on Libya at a summit in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday. The group, which includes Western powers, their Middle Eastern allies and international organizations, demanded that Gaddafi step down and agreed to provide the rebels with "material help."

Meanwhile, heavy fighting has continued along Libya's northern coast, where Gaddafi's forces have been trying to fight off rebels with rockets and small arms.

[Source: RIA Novosti, Moscow, 14Apr11]

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