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Summary: 12 April 2011, Luxembourg - Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, made today the following remarks at the end of the Foreign Affairs Council:
We had a very good discussion on Libya, and adopted robust conclusions which underline our determination that there should be a rapid political transition there.
The Libyan regime must end violence against citizens and respect human rights.
Those working within the regime have a choice: to continue to associate themselves with the brutal repression of Colonel Kadhafi or to work for an orderly transition to democracy.
I debriefed ministers on the joint EEAS/Commission mission to Libya last week.
We remain concerned about the humanitarian situation in Libya and on its borders.
The EU has decided that, if requested by the UN, it will conduct a CSDP operation, "EUFOR Libya", to support humanitarian assistance.
I wrote to Ban Ki Moon on Friday to underline our readiness to act if the UN asks us to do so.
Today we also adopted further sanctions against the regime, including in the oil and gas sector.
And we of course stand ready to take additional measures as needed to prevent further funding of the regime.
The EU will continue to support the Libyan people in the longer term, and to play a leading role in helping stabilisation, building a constitutional state and developing the rule of law.
I will be in Cairo on Thursday to follow up today's discussions, where I will meet with all our major partners, including the UN, Arab League and African Union.
Ministers had an interesting informal exchange of views with Mr Jibril of the Transitional National Council. This is part of our ongoing efforts to remain in close contact with opposition groups on the ground.
Syria, Bahrain and Yemen
Council has also adopted strong conclusions on Syria, Bahrain and Yemen.
The situation in each of these countries is of course different, but in all three, we have seen the use of violence by the security forces against peaceful demonstrators, which has resulted in several deaths.
The authorities must exercise restraint.
Those arrested in connection with peaceful demonstrations must be released immediately.
The authorities should investigate the deaths of protestors and bring those responsible to account.
We call on the Syrian authorities to lift the state of emergency without delay.
There has to be a clear and credible programme of political reform and a concrete timetable for its introduction.
In Bahrain, we all remain concerned at the lack of any tangible progress towards real dialogue.
In Yemen, we urge President Saleh to take concrete steps to allow a credible and peaceful political transition.
I also informed ministers that it was not possible to arrange a Quartet meeting this week.
The Quartet remains fully committed to helping the parties move forward towards peace.
That effort is now more urgent than ever.
Quartet envoys met on April 5 with representatives of the Israelis and the Palestinians.
It was determined after these meetings that more time is needed for consultations at envoys' level before we schedule the next principals' meeting.
We wish to convene the next principals' meeting as soon as possible.
We were delighted to welcome the arrest of Laurent Gbagbo and President Ouattara's announcement that he intends to pursue a policy of reconciliation and reconstruction in Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast must re-establish stability, peace and prosperity, so that shattered lives can be re-built, families can be re-united and normal life can be resumed.
This is an historic opportunity. We will do all we can to help.