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Swedes back Libya deployment: poll

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Swedes back Libya deployment: poll
08:01 CET+01:00
Nine out ten Swedes support the UN-backed mission to stop Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi with a vast majority backing Swedish involvement in the military operation in the north African country.

Some 65 percent of Swedes supported sending JAS Gripen aircraft to bomb Libya, according to a Demoskop poll published in the Expressen daily.

Foreign minister Carl Bildt meanwhile declined to give any confirmation on how imminent Swedish involvement in the UN mission is.

"We don't know, because we don't know how the operation is going to be organised yet," Bildt said.

Bildt however said that in his opinion, Sweden should lend its active support to the mission.

"My view is that Sweden should take part," he told the newspaper.

On his personal blog, Bildt underlined that the focus and most difficult challenge facing the mission was the political attempts to build a functioning Libya after Qaddafi.

As the aerial bombardment of Libyan targets entered its third night, the leadership of the mission remained unclear with participating countries unable to agree on whether NATO should oversee the military operation.

There is also some discussion over whether the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 allows for the direct targeting of Muammar Qaddafi.

US president Barack Obama outlined the US position that it would like to see the end of Qaddafi's 42 year rule, but was keen to stress that the bombing was intended to offer protection to Libyan citizens.

UK prime minster David Cameron meanwhile argued that the resolution supports the direct targeting of the dictator if it would prevent the attacks on rebel forces and civilians.

Carl Bildt recognised that the ongoing operation was complex and revealed that a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday showed that there was dissension in how best to proceed.

"The longer the operation goes on the more demanding the more or less political issues that must be resolved will become," he said.

The Local reported on Monday that the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag, stands firmly behind the Swedish deployment of JAS Gripen aircraft, with only the Sweden Democrats expressing opposition.

The Swedish Armed Forces have informed the government that it can send up to eight JAS Gripen planes to Libya.

The last time Swedish fighter aircraft participated in battle was almost 50 years ago, when J 29 "Flying Barrel" planes fought in the Congo in the early 60's.

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