Libya has declared an immediate cease-fire and says it is ready to open channels of dialogue with the rebel opposition. The government announced the action on Friday, a day after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that would allow it to impose a no-fly zone over the country.
World powers reacted warily. They will consider a response in an emergency summit in Paris on Saturday with a meeting of representatives of the U.N., Arab League, European Union and United States.
U.S. President Barack Obama urged Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to pull his troops back from positions near rebel strongholds, stop attacks on civilians and allow in humanitarian aid. Mr. Obama also said the U.S. would support its U.N. partners but he had no plans of sending ground troops into Libya.
Mr. Obama announced that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be attending the Paris summit.
Earlier Friday, Clinton warned that the U.S. would be impressed by Mr. Gadhafi’s actions and not his words.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the 27-nation bloc will be examining the details of the Libyan cease-fire. Nations participating in the no-fly zone enforcement were deploying ships and planes throughout the region.
Libya’s moves came as NATO envoys in Brussels discussed ways to enforce the U.N. Security Council resolution. The Reuters news agency quotes NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen as saying the alliance is completing plans so that it can take the “appropriate action” on Libya.
Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said his country is obliged to accept the Security Council resolution as a U.N. member. The resolution passed late Thursday authorizes “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya.
The Libyan minister urged foreign powers to “check the facts on the ground” by sending fact-finding missions. He added that Mr. Gadhafi’s government wanted to open a dialogue with all parties interested in Libya’s territorial unity.
Before the announcement, pro-Gadhafi forces bombarded the western rebel-held town of Misrata on Friday. Witnesses say at least four people were killed.