Turkey irked by strikes, seeks clarification

Turkey on Monday criticised the Western-led coalition air strikes on Libya and said it was awaiting clarification on a possible role for Nato in the operation.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose country is Nato's sole Muslim-majority member, criticised the way the coalition force that began bombing Libya at the weekend was formed following the UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire and authorising a no-fly zone.

"There is a certain procedure under international law for the formation of such coalitions. We do not believe that this procedure was sufficiently observed," he told reporters.

He stressed the international community's objective in Libya should be "not to launch of a large-scale war" similar to those in Afghanistan and Iraq but "to provide humanitarian aid, stop the escalation of fighting through an arms embargo and prevent clashes through a no-fly zone."

At a meeting in Brussels Sunday, Turkey effectively delayed a Natto decision on possible action in Libya as it called for a review of existing plans and stressed that civilians must be protected.

"We asked very legitimate questions and it was not an effort to hinder anything," Davutoglu said of Sunday's meeting.

"Those are questions about principles, about how operations under UN leadership should be carried out and how consultations should take place within NATO... There will be another session today to answer those questions," he said, referring to a meeting in Brussels later Monday.

The minister stressed that any contribution that Turkey might offer would be aimed "at laying the ground for peace, stability (in Libya) and lasting Turkish-Libyan friendship."

Earlier, Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul said Ankara was perplexed by France's leadership in the air strikes, Anatolia news agency reported.
"It does not seem quite possible for us to understand France's being so much at the forefront in this action. We have difficulties in understanding (its action) as if it is the implementer of the UN resolution," Gonul was quoted as saying.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to discuss the situation with US President Barack Obama in a telephone call later Monday when he returns from a visit to Saudi Arabia, Davutoglu said.

Erdogan has voiced hope the ongoing military operations will be over "as quickly as possible".

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