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African Union, Russia Condemn French Arms Drop To Libya Rebels


African Union Commission head Jean Ping (right) with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (file photo)
African Union Commission chief Jean Ping says France's decision to air-drop weapons to Libyan rebels is dangerous and puts the whole region at risk.

He told the BBC the action risked creating problems similar to those in war-torn Somalia.

France has confirmed it dropped arms to Berber tribal fighters in the mountains southwest of the capital, Tripoli.

Ping was speaking from Equatorial Guinea, where heads of state were set to meet for an African Union summit.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the move a "crude violation" of a UN Security Council resolution that imposed an arms embargo on Libya from February.

Lavrov's comments came a day before he was expected to host French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe in Moscow.

Libyan rebel representative Mahmud Jibril countered during a visit to Austria that rebels need more and better arms to win their battle against government forces.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said London was providing body armor, police uniforms, and communications to rebels based in the eastern city of Benghazi.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on June 30 that the alliance was not involved in the French operation.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Vienna, Rasmussen said he had no information of any other countries delivering weapons to the rebels.

China called on nations involved in the Libyan conflict to avoid any action that goes beyond the mandate of a UN resolution authorizing military action to protect civilians in Libya.

compiled from agency reports

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