UK Politics

David Cameron hails EU 'progress' on Libya

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Media captionDavid Cameron said EU leaders had agreed to consider "all necessary options"

David Cameron has said "good progress" has been made on dealing with Libya at an EU meeting but warned more must be done to stop Col Gaddafi's "rampage".

The PM denied being frustrated that EU leaders had not backed a possible no-fly zone, saying they had agreed to examine "all necessary options".

He said EU leaders were "absolutely united" in saying Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi "must go".

London and Paris want to build support for a UN resolution for a no-fly zone.

'Waging war'

A special meeting of the European Council has been called in Brussels to discuss the crisis as pro-Gaddafi forces wrest back control of territory previously held by the opposition, following a major military offensive.

The UK has accused the Gaddafi regime of "waging war against their own people", using aircraft and helicopters to mount attacks.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Cameron said European leaders had been "united, categorical and crystal-clear" that Col Gaddafi must step down, had agreed new sanctions against financial institutions linked to the Gaddafi family and agreed that contingency planning must be continued on possible further action, which he said included a possible no-fly zone.

He added that Britain had frozen £12bn of Libyan assets and said the international community had come together swiftly to isolate Col Gaddafi's regime.

"Do we need to do more? Yes of course we do because the fact is this man is brutalising his own people and we can't stand by while that happens but the fact is I think we've made good progress in the UN, good progress in the EU, good progress in Nato," Mr Cameron said.

Mr Cameron said a no-fly zone would have to be "necessary, legal and win broad support" but added Europe must be "ready to act" if the situation in Libya requires it.

Asked if he was frustrated that the words "no-fly zone" had not been included in the communique from the summit, he said: "I don't feel frustrated, Europe is an alliance of 27 and all our meetings tend to over-run and discussions continue.

'Desert horrors'

"On the issue of planning for the future, the council conclusions say this: 'The European Council expresses its deep concern about attacks against civilians, including from the air. In order to protect the civilian population, member states will examine all necessary options, provided there is demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region.'"

He said that was "strong language" and "pretty tough".

"Of course the EU is not a military alliance, but I think on the urgent question, how do we deal with Libya, how do we turn up the pressure, we've made good progress today and it was worth having this meeting."

But he warned: "Gaddafi is still on the rampage, waging war on his own people. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and right now there is no sign of this ending.

"We simply don't know how bad this could get, or what horrors already lie hidden in the Libyan desert."

London and Paris are trying to build support for a UN resolution to authorise a no-fly zone in Libya, alongside the support of the international community - particularly the Arab world - and a "demonstrable" case for intervention.

After meeting on Thursday, Nato defence ministers said further planning was needed on how to initiate and enforce any potential air exclusion zone in Libya and that this could only happen with a "clear mandate" from the UN - likely to need US, Chinese and Russian support.