NATO's top military commander in Turkey
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 4:35 AM
ANKARA, Turkey -- NATO's top military commander, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, on Thursday met Turkish military leaders in Ankara, which has been seen as holding up agreement on a NATO command structure for a no-fly zone over Libya.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has warned that the rules of engagement in Libya must be restricted to protecting civilians, enforcing the arms embargo and no-fly zone, and the provision of humanitarian aid. This would exclude any further air strikes against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's ground forces.
"It is a framework that is not offensive," Davutoglu said Wednesday.
Davutoglu met with Stavridis upon his arrival in Ankara late Wednesday and discussed operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, his office said. He also called NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague Wednesday night to convey Turkey's views on Libya, the Anatolia news agency said.
NATO warships have already started patrolling off Libya's coast Wednesday to enforce the U.N. arms embargo. Turkey, NATO's sole Muslim member, said it would contribute at least four frigates.
Turkey's Parliament was scheduled to approve participation of its navy vessels in the naval mission later Thursday. Two of the frigates have already reached Libyan waters and the others are on their way, Navy commander Adm. Ugur Yigit said Wednesday.