U.N. head: Libyan PM "desperate" to stop strikes

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, welcomes U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon before a crisis summit at the Elysee palace in Paris, Saturday, March, 19, 2011. Britain and France took the lead in plans to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya on Friday, sending British warplanes to the Mediterranean and announcing a crisis summit in Paris with the U.N. and Arab allies. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere) Remy de la Mauviniere

French President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomes U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon before a crisis summit at the Elysee palace in Paris, March, 19, 2011.
AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere
As French fighter jets began their sorties in Libyan air space and launched missiles against tanks of Muammar Qaddafi's forces, the Libyan prime minister called the Secretary General of the United Nations and asked him to intervene against military action.

Ban Ki-Moon said today that on the eve of the momentous declaration agreed to today by the Paris Summit for the Support to the Libyan People and the launch of military operations, he received an urgent call from the Libyan Prime Minister, telling him that Libya will strictly abide by Resolution 1973.

Ban described the caller as sounding "rather desperate," reports CBS News foreign affairs analyst Pamela Falk.

"He asked me to intervene to stop military action on the part of the international community," Ban said.

"It is not clear what they are doing. He called for organizing a monitoring team to observe the cease-fire. The Libyan claim has to be verified. There is no doubt the Libyans are trying hard to ward off military action under 1973."

Ban said today it is imperative that the United Nations continue to act with speed and decision to make sure the goals of the resolution are met.

"I assure you that the United Nations system will carry out these responsibilities and work closely with Member States and regional organizations to coordinate a common, effective and timely response," Ban said.

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Ban said he has spoken several times with the Foreign Minister of Libya to urge the Government to stop the violence and cease fire immediately. The U.N.'s special envoy, Abdel-Elah al-Khatib, visited Tripoli last week with the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator to press for an immediate cessation of hostilities. "They saw worrisome signs," Ban said, "including threats and incitement against the armed opposition. Libyan and foreign journalists continue to be arrested.

"The humanitarian situation that the U.N. team witnessed was troubling, even on journeys accompanied by the Libyan authorities. In the city center of Zawiyeh, the team saw dozens of destroyed buildings."

Ban said all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya will be investigated and responsible parties identified.

  • Pamela Falk

    Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations.

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