March 21, 2011 / 9:35 AM / 7 years ago

Arab League chief says he respects U.N. resolution

CAIRO (Reuters) - Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Monday he respected a U.N. resolution authorizing military action in Libya, after earlier comments suggested he was concerned by actions taken by Western powers.

“The Arab League position on Libya was decisive and from the first moment we froze membership of Libya ... Then we asked the United Nations to implement a no-fly zone,” he told a news conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“We respect the U.N. resolution and there is no conflict with it, especially as it indicated there would be no invasion but that it would protect civilians from what they are subject to in Benghazi,” he said.

The U.N.-mandated intervention to protect civilians caught up in a one-month-old revolt against Gaddafi had drawn comments from Moussa Sunday that suggested he questioned the need for a heavy bombardment that he said had killed many civilians.

Speaking at Arab League headquarters in Cairo Monday, Moussa said: ”It is for protecting civilians and that is what we care about.

“We will continue to work on the protection of civilians. We urge everybody to take this into consideration in any military action.”

The United States, carrying out air strikes in a coalition with Britain, France, Italy and Canada and others, said the campaign was working and dismissed a ceasefire announcement by the Libyan military Sunday evening.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking alongside Moussa, said Moscow supported an Arab League resolution which had called for a no-fly zone over Libya.

But he added: “We got worried about the air strikes over Tripoli and the safety of civilians and Russians there.”

Moussa is to hold an emergency meeting with permanent delegates of Arab League member countries Tuesday to discuss the situation in the Arab world, with emphasis on the Libyan crisis, Egypt’s official state news agency reported Monday.

Reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Sarah Mikhail; Writing by Edmund Blair and Dina Zayed; Editing by Andrew Roche

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