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Europe's leaders agree on 'all options' in Libya

European Union leaders agreed to "examine all necessary options" to protect civilians in Libya as they ramped up pressure on Gaddafi at a crisis summit

AFP , Friday 11 Mar 2011

European Union leaders on Friday agreed to "examine all necessary options" to protect civilians in Libya as they ramped up pressure on Moamer Gaddafi at a crisis summit.

Opening a door to possible military intervention, the 27-nation bloc agreed a statement expressing "its deep concern about attacks against civilians, including from the air.

"In order to protect the civilian population, member states will examine all necessary options, provided that there is a demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and support from the region," the statement said.

The legal basis sought by EU states would be a United Nations Security Council resolution authorising action.

European nations have also repeatedly insisted they would take action in Libya only with approval from the Arab League, which will discuss events in Libya in Cairo on Sunday.

Friday's pivotal summit capped 48 hours of talks in response to the crisis in Libya, also involving NATO defence ministers and European Union foreign ministers.

The EU also deemed the opposition to Kadhafi, based in the eastern city of Benghazi, a "legitimate interlocutor."

France has officially recognised the opposition as the rightful representative of Libya but other EU states have stopped short even as they insist that Gaddafi immediately step down.

Gaddafi must give up power "without delay", said EU president Herman Van Rompuy at the close of the summit on the conflict in the north African nation.

Gaddafi was "a leader shooting at his own people," Van Rompuy said.

"The Libyan leadership must give up power without delay," he added.

"All say it loud and clear," Van Rompuy said of the EU leaders.

In other developments at the talks, British Prime Minister David Cameron called on the European Union and international community to consider imposing additional sanctions on Libya's oil industry.

Cameron's call came as multi-billion-dollar EU sanctions on Libya came into force on five state vehicles holding billions in assets and investments said to be under Gaddafi's family control.

The EU Official Journal named the the Libyan Investment Authority -- "also known as the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company" -- among the five, as the overseas vehicle for investing Tripoli's oil revenues and "under control of Moamer Kadhafi and his family, and a potential source of funding for his regime."

The others were the Central Bank of Libya, the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio, the Libyan Foreign Bank and the Libyan Housing and Infrastructure Board.

Also named was an Austrian citizen, Mustafa Zarti, for "closeness of association with regime," as well as a board member of the National Oil Corporation, the head of Tamoil and vice chairman of First Energy Bank in Bahrain.

The new targets come on top of 26 individuals deemed responsible for a violent crackdown on Libya's civilian population since February 15 who are also subject to an asset freeze and travel bans.

These include the veteran ruler's seven sons and his daughter, along with his wife Safia al-Barassi.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi, who signed the entry in the Official Journal, the record of EU law, told national radio Friday that "further sanctions are not being ruled out, in particular a freeze of the assets of oil and gas producing and exporting companies."

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© 2010 Ahram Online.