EU nations are preparing to take part in a possible no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Moamer Gaddafi from bombing protesters in case the UN approves such a measure, an EU diplomat said Friday.
European Union governments are making "contingency plans" to police Libyan airspace but "the EU needs a UN Security Council resolution first," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
The idea of a no-fly zone has been evoked as part of a set of international measures to punish the Gaddafi regime for its deadly repression of a popular revolt against his iron-fisted rule.
EU defence ministers met Friday in Godollo, Hungary, with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to discuss the evacuation of foreigners stuck in the middle of the uprising, which has left hundreds dead.
Rasmussen did not rule out NATO's participation in a no-fly zone but also stressed that a UN mandate would be needed.
"I think it is too early to go into specifics," he told reporters.
"I would like to add to this that such a far-reaching approach would definitely require international legitimacy, in particular I think it would require a clear mandate from the United Nations," he said.
The UN Security Council will meet later Friday to discuss the crisis in Libya, with France and Britain pushing for a resolution calling for sanctions and a total arms embargo against Tripoli.
But diplomats said sanctions were unlikely to be announced or agreed by Friday's meeting, when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will address envoys.