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France to push for no-fly zone over Libya at G8 meeting

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to speed up plans for a no-fly zone in Libya at a G8 meeting in Paris on Monday and Tuesday. While Britain supports the plan, Germany and the US are more cautious.

EU leaders at summit

Smiles all round despite a rift in the EU's response to Libya

Responses to the conflict in Libya and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are set to dominate the agenda at a two-day meeting of G8 powers on Monday and Tuesday in Paris.

Host and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, backed by Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, is keen to push for a no-fly zone over Libya, after the Arab League on Saturday backed the measure under certain conditions.

At last week's EU summit, Sarkozy, supported by Cameron, had called for "targeted action" against Moammar Gadhafi's regime, raising the specter of military intervention.

Germany , US cautious

Other countries, notably Germany and the US are more skeptical.

Libyan volunteers stand on the outskirts of the eastern town of Ras Lanouf in Libya

Gadhafi continues to fight rebels across Libya

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who will also attend the meeting, welcomed the backing of a no-fly zone by the Arab League as a "clear signal" from the region. But he said key questions remained unanswered, such as "how we can implement the no-fly zone, which is essentially military intervention from outside, without violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Libya, as demanded by the Arab League."

The United States, aware of intense opposition in the Arab world to its missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, remains cautious, with Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying on Saturday that it remained unclear whether it would be a "wise" move.

China and Russia, who are also permanent members of the UN Security Council and can therefore block any resolutions, are also reluctant to agree to a no-fly zone. Russia, however, said last week that it would give a fair hearing to the proposals.

Japanese recovery teams enter a destroyed area of Sendai, northeastern Japan

Many countries have sent rescue teams to Japan

Response to Japan disaster

The G8 meeting of foreign ministers will also discuss how to coordinate aid to Japan, which was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami last week.

The US has also diverted an aircraft carrier to transport food and people to the disaster area and several countries, including Germany, have sent experts and equipment.

The G8 meeting in Paris is designed to lay the foundations for the G8 summit in Deauville in northern France in May. It will kick off with a working dinner Monday evening, followed by a full day of talks on Tuesday.

Author: Nicole Goebel (AFP, dpa, dapd)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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