NATO agrees on ousting Gadhafi, but split on the details

BERLIN — The United States and its allies put up a united public front Thursday on the goals of NATO's stalemated military mission in Libya but failed to resolve behind-the-scenes bickering over how to achieve them.

NATO members agreed on paper with U.S. President Barack Obama that Moammar Gadhafi had to go to end the crisis; they also made clear that they would not be the ones to oust him. Although several NATO members want the alliance to commit more planes to expand the air campaign, a day of meetings in the German capital closed without any specific commitments for more aircraft.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed for unity, saying Gadhafi was taunting the alliance by continuing to strike cities held by rebels seeking his overthrow. Late Thursday, Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a joint declaration that they will not stop the campaign and "remain united" in efforts to remove Gadhafi from power.

In Tripoli on Thursday, Gadhafi rolled defiantly through the streets, on the same day that NATO airstrikes shook the city. Gadhafi gave no sign that he's willing to relent, despite two months of civil war and mounting international pressure for him to move aside. Instead, his loyalists pounded rebel positions in the besieged western city of Misrata with dozens of rockets for hours, killing at least 13.

The main target of the assault was Misrata's port, the only lifeline for rebels who have been trying to defend positions in the city, Libya's third-largest, against Gadhafi's forces.

Early Friday, Gadhafi's daughter Aisha sent another defiant message from her father's Bab al-Aziziyah compound in the capital of Tripoli, badly damaged exactly 25 years ago, in an April 15, 1986, bombing by U.S. warplanes. That attack came in response to a bombing that had killed two U.S. servicemen at a German disco.

"Leave our skies with your bombs," Gadhafi's daughter told a cheering crowd, addressing the international community. "We are a people that cannot be defeated."

Back in Berlin, the allies resolved anew to enforce a U.N. arms embargo, protect civilians acting to push Gadhafi forces out of cities they have entered, and get humanitarian aid in.

NATO agrees on ousting Gadhafi, but split on the details 04/15/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 15, 2011 12:26am]

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