x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Top Australian diplomat backs Libya no-fly zone

The Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd today supported the GCC's call for a no-fly zone over Libya.

ABU DHABI // Australia’s top diplomat today backed the GCC’s call for a no-fly zone in Libya.

The GCC’s statement was backed yesterday by the Australian foreign minister, who said that Arab support is crucial for the international effort coalescing against the Libyan regime of Col Muammar Qaddafi.

“I found the statement by the GCC foreign ministers very encouraging”, said Kevin Rudd, Australia’s foreign minister, in an interview with The National.

Mr Rudd has been an advocate for instituting a no-fly zone in Libya, speaking in support of the measure at a UN meeting recently.

“What I do detect across the region and the world is emerging support”, he said.

Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s Secretary General, told French officials that the league backed a no-fly zone, and the secretary general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) also backed the no-fly zone.

NATO is engaged in planning for the operation, said Mr Rudd.

“The logic has been clear to me from the beginning, which is Gaddafi with significant units remaining, his air force poses a real threat not just to the opposition movement but to the people of Libya,” he said. “He shows there is no interest in adhering to the principles of international humanitarian law.”

Mr Rudd called a no-fly zone the “best of two evils”.

He also said the GCC and Australia were at the final stages of negotiating a free-trade agreement, which would bolster the US$10 billion (Dh36.63bn) in annual trade between the two sides.

Only a few technical hurdles, including tariff levels, have yet to be finalised.

Mr Rudd also said that his country supports the legitimate democratic aspirations of people in the Arab world, but he expressed worries that other forces in the region such as Iran might seek to hijack some of these movements.

kshaheen@thenational.ae