NATO will not place any ground troops on Libyan soil after the civil war there is over, according to Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
NATO defense ministers met in Brussels today to assess the alliance’s progress in the war-torn North African country and to map out a future without Moammar Gaddafi.
For Gaddafi, it is no longer a question of if he goes but when he goes, Rasmussen said. Because Gaddafi's reign of terror is coming to an end.”
While NATO has been criticized in some quarters (notably by the regime in Tripoli) for killing civilians with its air strike missions, Rasmussen insisted that the bombing campaign has saved countless Libyan lives. Although he would not speculate how much time would be required to oust Gaddafi.
We will keep up the pressure for as long as it takes to bring this crisis to an early conclusion, he told reporters. [But] we have no intentions to put troops on the ground.
In addition, NATO agreed to extend its military operations in Libya for another 90 days through September.
Prior to the meeting, Rasmussen said he wanted alliance members to share the costs and risks associated with the Libyan operations.
Obviously some of those allies and partners carrying the heavy burden start to ask whether it would be possible to broaden the participation a bit, he said earlier in the week.
That is also the essence of our alliance: that allies that actually have the necessary assets at their disposal, also contribute those assets, based on the principle of solidarity.
Britain’s voice in NATO, Liam Fox, the UK defense secretary, wants to see increased urgency in some quarters for the Libya campaign.
The United Kingdom has been very forward-leading, very clear that we want to see the Libyan people safe from the excesses of the Gaddafi regime, he said. We will want to push that point today.
NATO members Sweden said its ruling government reached an agreement with opposition parties to extend the participation of Swedish jets in Libya reconnaissance missions by three months through September.
However, one of NATO’s most powerful and prominent members, Germany, has refused to participate in the Libya mission.
We will not change our position concerning the military action. We will not participate,'' Christian Schmidt, Germany's secretary of state, said.
Meanwhile, NATO missiles continue to mercilessly bomb the compound of Moammar Gaddafi in Tripoli and other targets.
However, Gaddafi has remained defiant, declaring on state TV that he refuses to step down from power, vowing to stay in Libya.
I am now speaking as planes and bombs fall around me, Gaddafi said. But my soul is in God's hand. We will not think about death or life. We will think about the call of duty. We will not surrender: we only have one choice - to the end! Death, victory, it does not matter, we are not surrendering!''
Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, will go to the United Arab Emirates to hold talks with the 22-nation Libyan Contact Group to discuss how to help the Benghazi-based rebels fighting to topple Gaddafi. Last month, the Contact Group agreed to provide the rebels with food, medicine and other supplies.