Britain says Libya war entering new phase
Reuters, Friday 27 May 2011
Cameron sees new phase in Libya war but is unaware of formal push for Russian mediation

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday that NATO's war to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was entering a new phase and that the deployment of British helicopters would turn up the pressure.

Cameron said he was unaware, however, of a formal suggestion at the Group of Eight summit in northern France that Russia, which is opposed to the West's military campaign in Libya, take a mediation role in the crisis.

"Now there are signs that the momentum against Gaddafi is really building. So it is right that we are ratcheting up the military, the economic and the political pressure," Cameron told a news conference at the summit in the seaside town of Deauville.

Earlier, senior Russian officials said Moscow was ready to mediate in Libya, following a request from its G8 partners, and said Russia had contacts in Gaddafi's entourage with whom it could try to negotiate his departure.

"There have been many offers to mediate. I don't particularly recognise a Russian offer to mediate, that wasn't something I discussed in my meeting with (President) Dmitry Medvedev," Cameron said. "I think the most important thing is to send the same message back down the pipe, as it were, every time one of these offers appears. The message is Gaddafi has to go."

G8 leaders said in their summit communique that Gaddafi had lost all legitimacy because of his use of force against civilians protesting his 41-year rule. They said he had no future in a democratic Libya and should leave.

"Crucially the G8 nations today reached a unanimous and final verdict on Gaddafi and his regime," Cameron said. "Every G8 nation including Russia has signed up to this."