Zapatero seeks support for Libyan intervention

Spanish leader wants backing of Arab League and African Union for possible mission

Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero would support international military intervention in Libya but only if it has the backing of either the Arab League or the African Union, diplomatic sources say.

Without regional support and a UN Security Council resolution, the prime minister is telling his advisors that any other type of intervention would be counterproductive.

Zapatero, who was the first European leader to visit Tunisia after unrest in January led to the ouster of President Ben Ali, spoke by phone late last week with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The Conservative leader was the first European head of government to visit Egypt following President Hosni Mubarak's fall from power.

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The two will meet in Brussels on Friday when the European Union holds a special summit to discuss the Libyan crisis.

"Any intervention that is exclusively American or European could be counterproductive," said a source from the prime minister's Moncloa office. "It will give Gaddafi fire to wake up the colonial ghosts of the past and try to convince people that other nations want their petroleum."

Diplomatic sources also acknowledged that the international community is divided over military intervention.

While Libya has been suspended from the Arab League, sources say that the majority of its members don't want to take part in any intervention. In the African Union, where the rotating presidency is currently held by Equatorial Guinea's dictatorial President Teodoro Obiang, it is difficult to determine whether military intervention would muster support.

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