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LIBYA: China could veto no-fly zone proposal in favor of diplomacy

March 2, 2011 |  6:20 pm

Similar to Russia, China has signaled that it might oppose the imposition of an internationally backed no-fly zone over Libya if fighting continued between protesters and forces loyal to leader Moammar Kadafi, Bloomberg news agency reported Wednesday.

Li Baodong, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, emphasized the need for diplomacy to resolve the crisis, and respect for Libya’s territorial integrity, Bloomberg reported.

 “We believe that this political crisis should be resolved through peaceful means such as dialogue,” Li told reporters at the U.N. in New York, according to Bloomberg. “We respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Libya.”

Li said China would “heed and respect the opinions and positions of Arab countries and African countries.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described the idea of imposing limits on Libyan air space as “superfluous,” according to the Associated Press. Lavrov said world powers must instead focus on fully using the sanctions approved Feb. 26 by the U.N. Security Council, the AP reported. These sanctions authorize an arms embargo and asset freeze against Kadafi’s regime.

On Wednesday, the League of Arab States said it would not rule out imposing a no-fly zone on Libya in conjunction with the African Union if fighting in Libya failed to abate, according to Reuters news agency. And early this week, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the international body was “looking at all options,” including the imposition of a no-fly zone.

But as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Russia and China could veto any draft resolution to authorize a no-fly zone.

-- Ann M. Simmons

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