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British cabinet meeting on Libya air strikes

LONDON, Mar 18 – British Prime Minister David Cameron held an emergency cabinet meeting Friday after the UN Security Council authorised air strikes on Libyan targets.

Cameron will give a statement to parliament at around 1100 GMT, when he is expected to lay out what role British forces could play, his Downing Street office said.

British government sources however played down suggestions from France that military action could start within hours.

Cameron has joined French President Nicolas Sarkozy in pushing for military action in Libya in the face of initial reluctance from the United States.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday that the UN resolution was vital to "avoid greater bloodshed" as Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi\’s forces closed in on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

"It is necessary to take these measures to avoid greater bloodshed and to try to stop what is happening in terms of attacks on… the people of Libya," Hague said.

Britain has two frigates, HMS Cumberland and HMS Westminster, already in the Mediterranean.

Britain also has an airbase on Cyprus which could be used to launch attacks, and reports said Tornado jets could be Britain\’s first military assets to be used against Libyan targets.

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