Turkey warns against coalition 'hidden agenda' on Libya

An unidentified Nato jet flies over Italy's Aviano air base, 21 March
Image caption Several Nato states are involved in the air strikes

Turkish President Abdullah Gul has warned the coalition forces taking action in Libya against pursuing any hidden agenda.

Without naming any states, he said it was "obvious" that some coalition members perceived the conflict as an opportunity for themselves.

He also urged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to resign.

Scepticism about the coalition's aims has also been voiced at a session of the Russian parliament.

Turkey, Nato's only predominantly Muslim member and a key player in the Middle East, offered on Wednesday to send five ships and a submarine to join a naval operation to enforce an arms embargo off Libya.

However, the country has publicly questioned the wisdom of coalition air strikes.

"We saw in the past such [military] operations increasing the loss of lives," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, pledging that his country would "never point guns at the Libyan people".

On Wednesday, Mr Gul told reporters: "The issue is essentially about people's freedom and ending oppression... but unfortunately it is obvious that some countries are driven by opportunism.

"Some who until yesterday were closest to the dictators and sought to take advantage of them... display an excessive behaviour today and raise suspicions of secret intentions."

The military operation has involved France, the US, the UK, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Canada.

In Moscow, the head of the State Duma's international affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, told journalists that neither the actions of Mr Gaddafi against his own people nor the coalition force's military operation were acceptable to Russia.

"The actions of a so-called anti-Libyan coalition to 'restore order' in this country, which are beyond the scope of the actions sanctioned by the corresponding UN Security Council's resolution [on Libya], are not acceptable either," he added.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Duma that Russia had opposed possible military intervention in Libya from the outset.

Russia did not veto the UN Security Council resolution because it was governed by the principle that the civilian population must be protected, he explained.

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