TUNIS (Reuters) - Discussions are under way on the possible direct involvement of Arab nations in any international military action against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters on a visit to Tunisia, Clinton also said the international community was debating how best to stop Gaddafi from overrunning rebels fighting to end his four-decade long rule.
Asked if Arab nations would have to take part by providing pilots or by bombing or otherwise being directly involved in carrying out any eventual military operation against Gaddafi, Clinton replied: “That is also being discussed.”
U.S. officials said on Thursday that Washington, in a sharp shift in tone, wanted the United Nations to authorize not just a no-fly zone to aid Libyan rebels but also air strikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery.
Referring to a U.N. resolution on Libya that Washington hopes will be passed later on Thursday, Clinton said:
“It is important to recognize that military experts across the world know that a no-fly zone requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense system.
“There are many ways to write a resolution. Some would be a more general authorization with certain goals laid out. Some would be more specific listing of what was or wasn’t authorized,” she added.
Reporting by Arshad Mohammed, editing by Tim Pearce