PARIS, March 19 (Reuters) - Following are key quotes from leaders gathered in Paris as a coalition of world powers began U.N.-mandated military action in Libya on Saturday:
“It’s a grave decision we’ve had to take.
“Along with our Arab, European and North American partners, France has decided to play its part before history.
“This is why, in agreement with our partners, our air forces will counter any aggression by Colonel Gaddafi’s aircraft against the population of Benghazi. As of now, our planes are preventing air attacks on the city of Benghazi. As of now, other French aircraft are ready to intervene against armoured vehicles which threaten unarmed civilians.
“Colonel Gaddafi has scorned our warnings. In the past few hours his forces have intensified their murderous offensive.
“The Libyan people need our aid and support. It’s our duty.
“We are doing it to protect the civilian population from the murderous madness of a regime that in killing its own people has lost all legitimacy.
“There is still time for Colonel Gaddafi to avoid the worst, by acting without delay and without reservations in accordance with all the demands of the international community. The door of international diplomacy will open again the moment attacks end.”
“Colonel Gaddafi has made this happen. He has lied to the international community, he has promised a ceasefire, he has broken that ceasefire.
“He continues to brutalise his own people so the time for action has come. It needs to be urgent, we have to enforce the will of the United Nations and we cannot allow the slaughter of civilians to continue.
“Obviously at this time our thoughts should be with those who are going to risk their lives to help the lives of others. I think it is vitally important that, with the United Nations behind us, with the clear legality of this action, and with local countries supporting us as well, it is right to act.
“Of course, there are dangers. There are difficulties. There will always be unforeseen consequences of taking action. But it is better to take this action than to risk the consequences of inaction, which is the further slaughter of civilians by this dictator flouting the United Nations and its will.”
“We have said from the start that Arab leadership and participation in this effort is crucial.
“(Intervention) is to protect civilians and it is to provide access for humanitarian assistance.
“Further delays will only put more civilians at risk.
“We did not lead this. We did not engage in unilateral actions in any way, but we strongly support the international community taking action against governments and leaders who believe as Gaddafi is unfortunately doing so now.”
“The UN Security Council resolution 1973 has sent a strong and unequivocal message to Colonel Gaddafi: the violence against the people must stop immediately, the Libyan population must be protected.
“Colonel Gaddafi had and still has a choice to make. Either he abides immediately by the UNSC resolution or the international community will have no choice but to continue to act. I hope he will listen to the demands of the Libyan people, the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union and fulfill all the conditions set out by the international community in the UNSC resolution.”
“We are united that the war must be ended. The resolution must be pushed through.
“We will not take part in the action in military terms. We will take on additional responsibilities in Afghanistan.
“No one will succeed in dividing the international community in its determination. We stand united at the side of the Libyan people and stand united that the Gaddafi’s war against his own people must be ended and a ceasefire must be implemented.
“I have called for a comprehensive oil embargo because this would hit the Libyan regime hard.
“We are ready to relieve NATO particularly in its AWACS capabilities by taking on additional responsibilities in Afghanistan... Also we will naturally be prepared for the American bases in Germany to be used for military action.
“The next few days will be decisive.
“I believe that the presence also of the countries that are not participating militarily is very important because we have made clear that the resolution counts and this resolution must now be implemented. We will not participate militarily in the action.”
“I have proposed that the military coordination of the operation be in the NATO base at Naples.”
“For the time being we are making the bases available but, if they request it, even military intervention (is possible).”
“The parameters of our mission are clear. They are wide ranging and they do not include on-the-ground action.
“It is our belief that if Mr. Gaddafi loses the capacity to enforce his will through vastly superior armed forces, he simply will not be able to sustain his grip on the country.
“We are dealing with an individual and a regime that will not be satisfied with the mere reimposition of its authority. The nature of this leader and the nature of his regime is they will massacre every single individual they even remotely suspect of disloyalty. This is an intolerable situation, this is what the entire international community understands.”
U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL BAN-KI MOON
“Everything depends upon how Libyan authorities will comply with the Security Council resolutions. I again urge, in the strongest possible terms, that Libyan authorities must fully comply with resolutions and they must immediately stop these military hostilities.”
“The Libyan regime has not complied with the United Nations’ resolution. It still has a chance to comply, immediately. That is the first demand of this meeting: immediate compliance.”
Compiled by Vicky Buffery and Alastair Macdonald with reporting by John Irish, Elizabeth Pineau, Keith Weir, Daniel Flynn, Lionel Laurent in Paris and Fiona Ortiz in Madrid