France insists Libya air strikes UN-approved

PARIS - France insisted on Thursday that NATO air strikes against Moamer Gathafi's forces in Libya were being carried out in "strict accordance" with the terms of a UN Security Council resolution.
Paris was reacting after emerging powers Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa urged that "force be avoided" in Libya, and Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev said the Security Council had not authorised military action.
"Firstly, France's action is carried out in strict accordance with US Security Council Resolution 1973," French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters in Paris.
Valero said the resolution was passed as "a mobilisation in favour of the Libyan people, who are persecuted by Moamer Gathafi, whose son promised his people rivers of blood."
"It follows that, faced with a humanitarian emergency, targeted strikes on military equipment that allows Gathafi to continue to terrorise his population should continue," the spokesman argued.
Valero said the countries of the Libyan diplomatic contact group, which met on Wednesday in Doha, had endorsed this stance and added that NATO is "working on more robust, effective and rapid action."
Separately, Defence Minister Gerard Longuet dismissed ceasefire calls, arguing a truce would simply freeze the "unacceptable" situation on the ground and urged "simultaneous and determined" military and political pressure.
Earlier, the BRICS group of emerging powers -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- issued a statement after a summit in Sanya, China, saying:
"We share the principle that the use of force should be avoided."
Afterwards, Medvedev argued the Security Council resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorising "all necessary measures" to protect civilians had not endorsed the use of military force.
"We essentially have got a military operation. The resolution says nothing about it," he said, warning that efforts to exceed a UN mandate represented a "very dangerous tendency".
France and Britain seized on Resolution 1973 to justify air strikes by their jet fighters on Gathafi's heavy weaponry, arguing that in shelling rebel-held towns he is putting civilian lives in danger.
Paris and London have urged the allies to take more aggressive action, but some NATO members are wary of being drawn into the conflict and foreign ministers are meeting on Thursday and Friday in Berlin to review the strategy.