China and North Korea call for immediate cease-fire in Libya

AP , Tuesday 22 Mar 2011

China cites civilian deaths urging a cease fire, North Korea warns against violation of sovereignty

China called Tuesday for an immediate cease-fire in Libya where the US and European nations have launched punishing airstrikes to enforce a UN no-fly zone.

All parties must "immediately cease fire and resolve issues through peaceful means," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regularly scheduled news conference, citing unconfirmed reports that the airstrikes had caused civilian deaths.

China was one of five countries that abstained from last week's vote on the UN resolution to allow "all necessary measures" to stop Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's assault on rebel-held towns. It was approved with the backing of the United States, France and Britain.

Beijing has been sharply critical of the airstrikes that hit Libyan air defenses and forces for a third night Monday. The Foreign Ministry registered "serious reservations" about the resolution, and on Monday the country's most important political newspaper compared the Western airstrikes against Libya to the US-led invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In places such as Iraq "the unspeakable suffering of its people are a mirror and a warning," the Communist Party's flagship newspaper, People's Daily, said in a commentary.

China has historically opposed foreign military interventions as part of its long-standing policy of staying out of countries' internal affairs.

Jiang said China, one of five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council, only opted not to oppose the resolution out of consideration for the support shown for the measure among Arab and African nations.

North Korea also Tuesday urged an immediate halt to the airstrikes. An unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman said they were a "wanton violation" of Libya's sovereignty and a "hideous crime against humanity." The spokesman also accused the United States of wanting regime change in Libya and control of its natural resources. The comments were carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The Philippines respects the Security Council decision, presidential spokesman Abigail Valte in Manila said, while stopping short of openly supporting it due to concerns over the safety of Filipinos in Libya.

About 15,000 of the 26,000 Filipino workers in Libya have fled since the unrest started. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs is asking Libya to allow four Filipino maids who work for a Gadhafi relative to leave the country.

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