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'NATO may maintain Libya no-fly zone after war ends'

NATO explored on Wednesday options for a role after the war in Libya ends, including the possibility of continuing to patrol the country's skies and enforce an arms embargo.

world Updated: Aug 31, 2011 19:11 IST

NATO explored on Wednesday options for a role after the war in Libya ends, including the possibility of continuing to patrol the country's skies and enforce an arms embargo.

While NATO warplanes are maintaining pressure on diehard remnants of Moamer Kadhafi's regime, alliance ambassadors reviewed in Brussels a set of post-war scenarios presented by military staff, officials said.

Any role for NATO in Libya after hostilities there end would depend on requests from the United Nations, the officials stressed, noting that the alliance wants the UN to take the lead in post-conflict management.

NATO insists that it will not send any ground troops to keep the peace in Libya whenever the war ends. This appears to be a "firm view" maintained by alliance members, a NATO official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"I see the primary area of interest as some form of logistical support" to a UN mission, the official said, adding that this could include a sealift and an airlift.

The military alliance could also maintain its no-fly zone and a maritime arms embargo if the UN requests it, the official said.

NATO has conducted air strikes against Kadhafi forces while warplanes and ships patrolled Libyan skies and waters since March, under a UN Security Council mandate to protect civilians from attacks.

With some regime holdovers still refusing to lay down their arms after rebels took control of Tripoli last week, NATO members agreed that the bombing campaign must continue until Gaddafi troops stop attacking Libyans, the official said.

The NATO mission is operating under a second 90-day mandate that expires on September 27.

Alliance ambassadors put off on Wednesday a decision on whether to extend the operation for another 90 days because "we have the time" to decide while the next steps are explored, the official said.