|British Prime Minister David Cameron|
LONDON. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday that the international community must not let Libyan leader Moammer Gaddafi murder his own people.
"It is not acceptable to have a situation where Colonel Gaddafi can be murdering his own people, using aeroplanes and helicopter gunships and the like.
"We have to plan now to make sure that if it happens we can do something to stop it," Cameron said in a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai dominated by events in Libya.
The prime minister said the need to protect Libyan civilians from attack was why he had asked his military chiefs to look into the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.
"It's right for us to plan and look at plans for a no-fly zone," he said.
"We should also be making contact with, getting a greater understanding of, the opposition forces that are now in Benghazi and in control of quite a lot of the country.
"We are trying to step up our contact with them so we can know them better and what their intentions are."
But he added: "I don't think we should go beyond that for now."
Cameron was asked to compare the Libyan revolt to the end of the first Gulf War in 1991 when Shiites in southern Iraq rose up against Saddam Hussein, encouraged by the West, but were ultimately left to their fate and brutally crushed.
The prime minister said: "We mustn't let that happen in Libya and I think there are some very immediate dangers of what Colonel Gaddafi could do to his own people."
Cameron said there were political and legal difficulties with taking action against Gaddafi's regime but stressed that should not stop the international community from planning ahead for bringing the crisis to a swift end.
Britain and its allies must do "everything we can to isolate and starve that regime of money and support," he said.
"The next stage in our planning must be, tragically, planning for the humanitarian difficulties, potential humanitarian crises there could be. Let us hope this doesn't happen."
He added: "We should see the whole of what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East as an opportunity."
The West should try to ensure "this is a democratic awakening and not a time of risk and difficulty".