February 22, 2011 / 4:44 PM / 9 years ago

U.N. Security Council discusses Libya crisis

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council held closed-door discussions on Tuesday on the crisis in Libya, with Western envoys and Libya’s own breakaway delegation calling for action by the 15-nation body.

After hastily arranged informal consultations, diplomats said the council would return to the issue later in the day to consider a statement expected to demand a halt to the violence in the North African oil-producing country.

The council met at the request of Libyan Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who along with most other staff at Libya’s U.N. mission announced on Monday they were no longer working for leader Muammar Gaddafi and represented the country’s people. They called for Gaddafi’s overthrow.

In Libya, Gaddafi was using tanks, helicopters and warplanes to fight a growing revolt that erupted last week, witnesses said on Tuesday.

“The scale of violence by the Libyan security forces against peaceful demonstrators is really shocking,” German Ambassador Peter Wittig told reporters. “We think it’s a case for the Security Council, and the council should act with a swift and clear message.”

Dabbashi told journalists, “We are expecting something to protect the Libyan people to come out of the council.”

Diplomats were cautious on prospects for a request by Dabbashi, in a statement issued on Monday, for the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

Such a measure, seldom imposed by the council, would require a formal resolution. “I don’t think we’re in that territory yet,” one Western diplomat said.

The closed-door afternoon meeting would hear a briefing by a senior U.N. official and another by Dabbashi, diplomats said.

But, confusing the issue, Libyan U.N. Ambassador Abdurrahman Shalgham, who was away from New York on Monday and did not sign onto the anti-Gaddafi statement issued by Dabbashi and others, arrived at the Security Council just as the morning consultations ended.

Shalgham told reporters he had appealed to Libyan officials to end the violence against demonstrators, but that he still supported Gaddafi. “I am with Gaddafi,” he said.

Diplomats said it was unclear what, if any, role Shalgham would seek to play in the meeting later in the day.

Reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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