Denmark extends Libya mission, says rebels can send envoy
Denmark decided Thursday to extend its participation in NATO operations in Libya
Denmark decided Thursday to extend its participation in NATO operations in Libya for three months and to allow the rebel National Transitional Council to send envoys to Copenhagen.
Denmark's multi-party Libya contact group announced at a news conference the Scandinavian country's six F-16 fighter jets would continue participating in NATO bombing missions over Libya for another three-month renewable period after the current one expires later this month.
"There is a broad agreement that the strategy we have chosen is the right one," Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen told AFP after the news conference.
She insisted that Denmark's participation in the NATO operations was creating a possibility for Libya to become a free and democratic society.
"But the pressure must remain on (Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi, so we will maintain our strategy, but adjust it so that it fits the developments of the past couple of months," she said, adding there were no plans to pull the Danish fighters out of Libya any time soon.
"We agree that Denmark must be patient and steadfast. We will continue both the military pressure on Kadhafi and our political efforts to find a political solution to the problems in Libya," Espersen told AFP.
The foreign minister added that Denmark was prepared to welcome envoys from the NTC as representatives of their country, after Copenhagen on Tuesday declared the two remaining Libyan diplomats appointed by the Kadhafi regime persona non grata.
"We have chosen to say that we are positively inclined to letting the National Transitional Council have a political representative in Denmark in order to have a partner for political dialogue so we are also able to ensure they move along the road of democracy," Espersen said.
She stressed the TNC had not yet applied for such a post, and it was not yet clear whether such a representative would be able to move into Libya's now empty embassy.
Other parties said they supported the strategy.
"I hope we soon see an end-date (for military operations), but that depends on when Kadhafi leaves the scene," Mogens Lykketoft, the foreign policy spokesman of the main opposition Social Democrats, told AFP.
The Socialist People's Party also agreed with Thursday's decision, and the party's defence spokesman Holger Nielsen told AFP that if the left-leaning opposition wins general elections -- set to be held in Denmark no later than November -- it would not shift the strategy.
"We have broad consensus among most political parties in parliament about this military mission, so I do not see any changes in the Danish policy towards Libya," he said.