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Brussels blog by some wire service journalists

Sarkozy lashes out at US, defends Libya campaign

Nicolas Sarkozy

By ANGELA CHARLTON

BRUSSELS (AP) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy derided the low U.S. profile in the international campaign in Libya, saying Friday that France and Britain are carrying most of the burden and will stay until Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi leaves.

While other European leaders pushed Friday for some kind of political solution in Libya, the French leader strongly defended the NATO-led military operation — and NATO itself. He refuted comments by U.S. Defense Minister Robert Gates that the alliance’s future could be in doubt because of European reluctance to exercise military might.

“I wouldn’t say that the bulk of the work in Libya is being done by our American friends,” Sarkozy told reporters in Brussels at a European Union summit. “The French and English and their allies are doing the work.”

The United States has insisted on a backseat role in Libya. It led the initial coalition airstrikes in March, but in April withdrew U.S. forces from the direct combat role, limiting them to battlefield surveillance, aerial tanking and other support roles.

Seven NATO members are now participating in air strikes: Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Italy. But, as Gates said, most of NATO’s 28 members, including Germany, have refused to join the strike mission in Libya.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

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