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France gathers world leaders to plan military action against Qaddafi

US, European, and Arab leaders are gathering in Paris Saturday for a meeting that will seek to define the terms of military engagement against Muammar Qaddafi's military forces.

By Staff writer / March 18, 2011

The French aircraft carrier 'Charles De Gaulle' is seen on the quay of the naval base in Toulon, France on March 18. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé told reporters on Friday that 'everything is prepared' for military action Sunday.

Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

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Paris

President Obama is sending his secretary of state to Paris tomorrow for a key meeting of European and Arab leaders that will seek to define the terms of military engagement in Libya against Muammar Qaddafi’s military.

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Secretary Hillary Clinton has been a strong advocate for a no-fly zone, and during a trip to Arab states this week she called for attacks on Libyan military sites and for Colonel Qaddafi's departure.

The Paris meeting will come two days after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution allowing “all necessary measures” against Qaddafi's forces, which have been making gains on the rebel fighters and approaching the de-facto opposition capital Benghazi. On Friday, Qaddafi's government declared a cease-fire even as its attacks continued on rebel holdouts.

The Paris meeting will center on two simple questions, says Antoine Sfeir, director of the Middle East Journal in Paris: “Are we going to protect the inhabitants of Benghazi physically, or not? Do we believe the cease-fire of Qaddafi, or not?”

Britain and France led the push for a UN resolution in an unusual moment of European resolve. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is hosting Saturday's meeting in Paris, which will include Britain’s David Cameron, Germany’s Angela Merkel, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and leaders from the Arab League, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Qatar.

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