South Africa's Zuma says NATO campaign cost lives in Libya

Lives could have been saved in Libya had NATO allowed the African Union (AU) to take the lead in the troubled country, South African President Jacob Zuma said Tuesday.

'Those who have the power to bomb other countries have undermined the AU's efforts and initiatives to handle the situation in Libya,' said Zuma, after talks with the visiting president of Ghana, John Atta Mills.

'We could have avoided a lot of loss of life in Libya,' Zuma was quoted as saying by the SAPA news agency.

It was Zuma's latest condemnation of the Western military campaign in Libya, which has been deemed crucial for the advancement of rebel troops, who have reached Tripoli, with fierce firefights ongoing.

South Africa voted in favour of the United Nations resolution in March that allowed for the creation of a no-fly zone over the North African country, but since then Pretoria has said the mandate has been abused.

The AU will hold high-level talks later this week on the situation in Libya. So far, the organization's efforts to mediate, led by Zuma and other African heads of state, have failed.

Mills was meeting Zuma in Cape Town, on his first state visit to South Africa as the two countries tried to increase their trade ties.

South Africa, the continent's largest economy, is seeking to expand its commerce in Africa, and sees Ghana as a major market in the western region, after Nigeria. Trade between the countries has tripled over the last decade, according to official figures.

[Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Johannesburg, 23Aug11]

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