Viagra allegations raised amid Libya divisions at UN

April 29, 2011 12:00 am
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, UNITED NATIONS, Apr 29 – The United States on Thursday raised allegations that Moamer Gadhafi\’s regime gives viagra to troops to carry out rapes as the UN Security Council wrangled over coalition attacks in Libya, diplomats said.

Russia and other nations have argued that France, Britain, the United States and their allies patrolling a no-fly zone over Libya are going beyond the mandate given by UN Security Council resolutions.

But the United States insisted that coalition actions were within the resolutions. US ambassador Susan Rice highlighted the use of viagra in the closed-door meeting as the debate intensified, according to diplomats present.

Rice said Gadhafi\’s forces were "issuing viagra to soldiers so that they go out and rape," said one diplomat at the meeting.

The ambassador did not give sources for the allegations. But another diplomat at the meeting said she made the comment as part of a debate with another envoy to highlight that "the coalition is confronting an adversary doing reprehensible things."

The US mission did not immediately comment on the claims.

Allegations of viagra being given to Gadhafi forces have been aired in British tabloid newspapers. A doctor in the Libyan city of Ajdabiya said last month that Gadhafi troops had been given viagra and condoms as part of a campaign of sexual violence.

Margot Wallstrom, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, issued a statement last week highlighting that reports of rapes in the Libya war have been "brutally silenced".

The Security Council is increasingly divided over the Libya conflict, with Russia in particular criticizing the western coalition.

Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the UN, said Resolutions 1970 and 1973 allowing the military action in Libya to protect civilians "must be implemented strictly and accurately."

"We are concerned about a kind of tendency of escalation in the military conflict which is bringing about more civilian casualties," Churkin told reporters.

"We hope that what the coalition is doing is not being seen by the opposition as an incentive not to enter into talks because we believe that dialogue is something which will eventually resolve the conflict."

As Rice left the talks she said that the claims made by critics of the coalition actions were "not accurate" but did not comment further.

France and Britain also strongly defended the coalition attacks on Gadhafi targets in the debate.

"The Security Council was told at the time what the coalition would be doing," said a western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The bottom line is that the action has been saving lives."
 

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