France Says Arms to Libya were for Self-Defense


France insisted Friday that weapons it supplied to rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were for "self-defense" in line with a U.N. resolution, after Russia and others voiced concern.

"Civilians had been attacked by Gadhafi's forces and were in an extremely vulnerable situation and that is why medicine, food and also weapons of self-defense were parachuted," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

"It is not a violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions" under which France and other allies launched air strikes and imposed embargoes to protect civilians from Gadhafi, he added, speaking France Inter radio.

France's military admitted French officials delivered "light arms" including machine guns and rocket launchers while providing humanitarian aid in Libya but denied supplying anti-tank missiles, as claimed in a press report.

Russia on Thursday demanded an explanation from France over the arms drops.

China urged nations involved in the Libyan conflict to stick to the U.N. mandate authorizing military action.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1970, passed in February, prohibited states from providing any kind of arms to Libya. Resolution 1973 in March authorized nations "to take all necessary measures" to help protect civilians.

Juppe was due to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Friday.