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Libya: Statement from the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy

The President of the French Republic gave the following statement after the conclusion of the Paris Summit on Libya. At the summit, a number of world leaders agreed to use military action against Libya:

Statement by the President at the Paris Summit of support for the Libyan people

Elysee Palace – Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, in Paris under the joint chairmanship of France and the United Nations Secretary General, leaders of the League of Arab States and the European Union met with representatives of the United States and Canada.

Together, we decided to enforce the Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and cessation of violence against civilians in Libya.

Participants agreed to implement all necessary means, especially military, to enforce the decisions of the Security Council of the United Nations.

Therefore, in agreement with our partners, our air forces will oppose any attack aircraft Colonel Gaddafi uses against the people of Benghazi. Already, our planes are preventing aerial attacks on the city. Already other French planes are ready to intervene against armoured units which threaten unarmed civilians.

From yesterday, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Arab countries have sent the following warning to Colonel Gaddafi and his forces: in the absence of an immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of forces who attacked civilians in recent weeks, our country will resort to military means. This warning was echoed by all participants in the Summit that just ended.

Colonel Qaddafi has ignored this warning. Over the last few hours, his forces have stepped up their deadly attacks.

Arab people have chosen to free themselves from the bondage in which they have been trapped for too long. These revolutions have generated immense hope in the heart of all who share the values ​​of democracy and human rights. But they are not without risk. Amid the difficulties and hardships they face, the Arab people need our help and our support. It is our duty.

In Libya, a peaceful civilian population that does not require anything other than the right to choose its own destiny, is in danger. We have a duty to respond to its anguished appeal. The future of Libya belongs to Libyans. We do not decide for them. Their struggle for freedom is theirs. We are working  with Arab countries, not for a goal that we would seek to impose on the Libyan people, but because of the acknowledgement that we can not tolerate such crimes.

Today, we operate in Libya on the Security Council mandate of the UN with our partners, especially our Arab partners. We do this to protect civilians from the murderous madness of a regime that, by murdering its own people, has lost all legitimacy.

We work to enable the Libyan people to choose their own destiny.

They can not be deprived of their rights by violence and terror.

There is still time for Colonel Qaddafi to avoid the worst by complying immediately and unconditionally with all the requirements of the international community. The door of diplomacy will reopen when the attacks cease.

Our commitment is total.

I say solemnly. Everyone is now placed in front of their responsibilities. We have taken a serious decision. In addition to its Arab, European and North American partners, France is committed to playing its role, its role before history.

Thank you.



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