Premature to arm Libya rebels: US

The US was considering whether to arm the out-gunned rebels in Libya as one of the range of options but said it would be premature to do so now.

Last Updated: Mar 08, 2011, 11:49 AM IST

Washington: The US was considering whether
to arm the out-gunned rebels in Libya as one of the range of options but said it would be premature to do so now, amid
increasing pressure from its allies on the crisis.

"I think that it would be premature to send a bunch
of weapons to a post office box in eastern Libya. We need to
not get ahead of ourselves in terms of the options we`re
pursuing," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told
reporters at his daily news conference.

"On issue of arming, providing weapons, it is one of
the range of options that is being considered. When you talk
about arming the rebels; we are pursuing a number of channels
to have conversations and discussions with the opposition,
groups and individuals, as we try to learn more about what
they are pursuing, what they want and that they also believe
what we believe the Libyan people want," he said.

However, State Department spokesman P J Crowley said
this would be in violation of the UN Security Council imposed
arms embargo against Libya.

"It would be illegal for the United States to do
that," he said referring to the UN resolution in this regard.
But he did not rule it out altogether.

US is using many channels -- diplomatic, the business
community, NGOs -- to reach out to those in Libya who are
working to bring about a government that respects the rights
and aspirations of the Libyan people, he said, but refrained
from giving any insight into it.

Carney also ruled out deployment of ground troops in
Libya, saying the option was not on top of the list.
However, a no-fly zone is an option which is currently
being considered with the international partners, he said.
"A no-fly zone option is certainly one that would be
discussed at NATO. In terms of the procedures of getting
there, should we want to pursue that option, I`m not going to
elaborate on the paths, but only to say that it is being
considered," he said.

Another option that NATO would be very much involved
in is enforcing the UN-mandated arms embargo, Carney said.
He said the international community, with the United
States in the lead, has moved with incredible rapidity to
address the situation in Libya and continues to deal with this
with great urgency.

"The meeting today at NATO of the North Atlantic
Council will be repeated daily this week as options are
reviewed and considered. But I again would urge some
perspective on the speed with which we and our partners have
moved in reaction to this situation in Libya," he said.

PTI