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Premature to arm Libya rebels: US

world Updated: Mar 08, 2011 09:16 IST

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The US was considering whether to arm the out-gunned rebels in Libya as one of the range of options but said it would be premature to do so now, amid increasing pressure from its allies on the crisis.

"I think that it would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a post office box in eastern Libya. We need to not get ahead of ourselves in terms of the options we're pursuing," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.

"On issue of arming, providing weapons, it is one of the range of options that is being considered. When you talk about arming the rebels; we are pursuing a number of channels to have conversations and discussions with the opposition, groups and individuals, as we try to learn more about what they are pursuing, what they want and that they also believe what we believe the Libyan people want," he said.

However, State Department spokesman P J Crowley said this would be in violation of the UN Security Council imposed arms embargo against Libya. "It would be illegal for the United States to do that," he said referring to the UN resolution in this regard. But he did not rule it out altogether.

US is using many channels -- diplomatic, the business community, NGOs -- to reach out to those in Libya who are working to bring about a government that respects the rights and aspirations of the Libyan people, he said, but refrained from giving any insight into it. Carney also ruled out deployment of ground troops in Libya, saying the option was not on top of the list. However, a no-fly zone is an option which is currently being considered with the international partners, he said. "A no-fly zone option is certainly one that would be discussed at NATO.

In terms of the procedures of getting there, should we want to pursue that option, I'm not going to elaborate on the paths, but only to say that it is being considered," he said. Another option that NATO would be very much involved in is enforcing the UN-mandated arms embargo, Carney said. He said the international community, with the United States in the lead, has moved with incredible rapidity to address the situation in Libya and continues to deal with this with great urgency.

"The meeting today at NATO of the North Atlantic Council will be repeated daily this week as options are reviewed and considered. But I again would urge some perspective on the speed with which we and our partners have moved in reaction to this situation in Libya," he said.