Return to Transcripts main page


The Fight for Libya; Japanese Authorities Raise the Threat Level; A New Threat For Libya From Three World Powers; Germany Abstains From Vote on U.N.; Security Council Resolution On Libya; Moment of Silence in Japan One Week After Moment Earthquake Struck; Japan One Week Later; American Rescue Workers in Japan Face Grim and Dangerous Task; Live Press Conference by Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister

Aired March 18, 2011 - 16:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Witness report deadly conflict raging in Libya, even after the government announces an immediate cease-fire. U.S. President Obama with a warning for the Libyan London -- military action is next.

Atomic fallout -- Japan raises the threat level of its nuclear crisis.

But what's the real danger?

And a week since the disaster, one family's determination to rebuild their lives.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

First, though, tonight, a coalition of nations is gearing up for possible air strikes on Libya, saying they'll judge the regime's commitment to a cease-fire pledge by its actions, not by its words. Rebels say government forces are keeping up fierce attacks to the east and west of Tripoli. They say at least 28 people died as fighting regard around Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zintan on Friday. This despite a promise by Libya's government to immediately stop all military operations. That announcement came hours after the U.N. Security Council approved the use of force, including a no-fly zone, to protect Libyan civilians.

Diplomats from around the world will meet in Paris on Saturday to analyze Libya's cease-fire pledge and to consider the next course of action. Britain, France and the U.S. are among the countries ready to help enforce a no-fly zone.

Also, fighter jets from Belgium, Norway, Canada and Lithuania are set to take part. Denmark is awaiting parliamentary approval before sending its war planes. Poland is offering logistical support. And according to the Arab League, at least two Arab countries will be part of the operation. Qatar says it will take part in international efforts to protect civilians.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the world can't just stand by and watch Moammar Gadhafi kill his own people. A short time ago, he said the Libyan leader had been given ample warning.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Moammar Gadhafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop.

Gadhafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zawiyah and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

Let me be clear -- these terms are not negotiable.


FOSTER: Well, Libya's government denies launching any new attacks on Friday. But CNN's own crew heard explosions around Ajdabiya, as well as some chilling eyewitness accounts.

Arwa Damon joins U.S. now from Benghazi in Eastern Libya with details on that -- Arwa.


We were at a checkpoint outside of Ajdabiya, some 50 kilometers outside of it, because opposition forces told U.S. that the battle going on inside was supply too intense. While we were waiting there, we could feel the reverberations coming across the desert from the massive explosions taking place just a short distance down the road. And we spoke with a number of fighters coming out, all of them telling U.S. about the itsy of the battle. Some of them spoke about air strikes actually happening earlier in the day. That we cannot independently verify for ourselves.

Many of them are telling U.S. about the rising civilian death toll, speaking about a family that was trying to flee in three cars that was shot at by Gadhafi's forces.

One ambulance driver who we spoke to, who came out of the area of Ajdabiya in this massive convoy of opposition forces that was trying down the road, stopped to tell U.S. that they had to turn around and leave because they couldn't reach any of the wounded that needed medical care. They were not able to remove the dead bodies from the streets because of the itsy of the battlefield.

And much of this, Max, happening after Gadhafi's government itself announced it was going to be implementing a cease-fire.

All of the fighters who we spoke to, asking for their reaction to that announcement, simply scoffing, saying that Gadhafi is a liar, this is merely another ploy to try to buy him time with the international community, firmly believing that he plans on making a major move at any moment -- Max.


And what of the rebels' response to this news of a -- a U.N. cease- fire

Are they feeling very positive about the support they're getting from the international community?

DAMON: Well, Max, prior to that U.N. resolution passing, we really saw the opposition descending into despair, basically. They felt abandoned and betrayed by the international community. They couldn't believe that global leaders were seeing the images of what was happening in Libya and were not standing by them, were not standing by, as they say, the side of freedom and democracy.

When that resolution passed, there was great elation, joy and celebration.

But there is growing concern and anxiety with regards to how long it might actually take for that resolution to be implemented on the ground.

We spoke to a number of people after President Obama's speech, where it seemed like this work, the measures or the means by which the resolution would be implemented are going to be discussed and people are terrified of that time frame, one man saying that he was worried that Gadhafi was going to strike Benghazi tonight, continue to strike in other parts of the country.

One man criticizing President Obama and wondering if the president of the United States was simply going to wait for Gadhafi to massacre everybody before beginning to implement that resolution.

And this just goes to show you that the opposition really is trying its best to hold on, but they do need that no-fly zone, they do need those other measures, the air strikes, put into effect immediately -- Max.

FOSTER: Arwa Damon in Benghazi, thank you very much, indeed.

And we'll be speaking to Nic Robertson soon.

He's in Tripoli.

We'll get more on the Gadhafi point of view, as he's been understanding it, in just a few minutes time.

Well, several countries, of course, getting involved. They're throwing their support behind this effort. Italy and Spain are supporting the international effort against Libya, offering the use of their air bases, for example, for any military operations. The Spanish prime minister spoke out on the crisis today when he met with U.N. chief, Ban Ki- moon.

Al Goodman has more now from Madrid on that.


AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United Nations secretary-general was in Madrid on Friday, as the Libyan regime of Moammar Gadhafi declared a cease-fire in its assault on rebels just a day after a U.N. Security Council resolution authorized a no-fly zone over Libya.

The Spanish prime minister said the international community would not be fooled by Gadhafi's offer and would verify compliance with the resolution.

BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: At the same time, it is, again, absolutely necessary for Libyan authorities to immediately cease all hostilities against the civilian population. Attacks -- armed attacks against unarmed civilians and peaceful civilians is a violation of international humanitarian and human rights. And those perpetrators who have committed and who will commit these crimes will be responsible and accountable and will be brought to justice.

GOODMAN: The U.N. secretary-general said it is imperative that the international community continues to speak with one voice on events in Libya.

KI-MOON: I believe this resolution is very historic, very concrete and very practical, specified in a detailed manner. Therefore, it is necessary for all the member states of the United Nations to fully cooperate and implement whatever they can, using all assets and means.

GOODMAN: The U.N. secretary-general and the Spanish prime minister will go to Paris on Saturday, where French President Nicolas Sarkozy has convened leaders of the European Union, the African Union and the Arab League. The debate there will have a central point, the U.N. secretary- general said -- how to move forward to protect the people of Libya.

Al Goodman, CNN, Madrid.


FOSTER: Well, the European Union's foreign policy chief says the E.U. is looking at the details of Libya's cease-fire offer.

I spoke earlier with Catherine Ashton, asking her first why it's taken so long for the E.U. to apparently agree on a common policy on the Libyan crisis.


CATHERINE ASHTON, E.U. FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHIEF: Well, if you look at the European Council conclusions last week, what it made very clear was that the European Union is there to provide the kind of support when Europe comes together on humanitarian aid. So we've used our military assets, as we call them -- planes and other means -- to get people out of Libya -- 4,400 were brought out by military means, which was coordinated here in Brussels.

But the member states themselves have got to decide what they wish to do in terms of military action. And that's right. That's where Europe is right now. Where we're good (INAUDIBLE) --

FOSTER: But what you're suggesting there --

ASHTON: -- pull together --

FOSTER: -- is there's no single view --


FOSTER: -- that there is no single European view on this, is there?

The truth is we've got -- if you look at the big three, you've got France and Britain on one side, keen on military action. Germany pretty clear it doesn't want to get involved.

ASHTON: Well, that's what I was saying. The point about where you see unity is if you look at the Council inclusions from last week, that's what all 27 countries were saying together. They felt very strongly that Gadhafi should go. They felt very strongly that the European Union should be engaged in a humanitarian effort. They felt strongly that we have a real responsibility now for the neighborhood, to support this region in change. Member states make -- make decisions themselves on what assets they put forward. And that's where you see different countries taking different views.

But if you look at the resolution itself from the Security Council, nobody voted against it.

FOSTER: So as far as the European Union is concerned, as you understand it, which countries will be most involved militarily and in what way right now?

ASHTON: Well, you've seen some of the pronouncements that have been made. I think David Cameron has been speaking in the House of Commons. I think President Sarkozy will be making statements. We'll hear other things in the next hours and days.

Tomorrow, there's a meeting in Paris, which we will be attending. I'll be there to meet with the Arab League, with the United Nations and with the African Union to do my job, which is about trying to support the region economically, politically, looking, again, at issues like sanctions, looking again at how we support this transition and to show, of course, that we're there for the long-term.

FOSTER: Are you concerned that what we're going through now may be another Iraq in terms of Europe -- and -- in terms of the European perspective?

It was a nightmare, wasn't it, for the European Union, getting a single policy on Iraq. And it's happening again here with Libya, isn't it?

ASHTON: I think it would be completely wrong to try and look back at any particular conflict or war and try and build up some kind of similarities in situations that are really very different.

I think what's really important is always to bear in mind history and to make sure that when you plan for the future, you build on the lessons that have been learned. But these are not situations that compare. And it's important to take each situation individually.

I've made very clear to you what the post-Lisbon world is in terms of the European Union and the capacity that we have to try and build together, where Europe is stronger as 27. But it never takes away the rights of sovereign states to make their own determination. And that's right and proper, too.

There's no conflict in that, in that sense. That's how it should be.


FOSTER: That was Catherine Ashton there, speaking to me earlier.

Well, a doctor in the western city of Misurata says a government assault went on there for hours today and civilians are among the dead, despite all of this announcement from the foreign minister in Libya that there will be a cease-fire.

Our Nic Robertson is in Tripoli, around 200 kilometers away from Benghazi. -- what can you tell U.S., Nic, about what the government's saying today?

And we know they've issued a statement about a cease-fire, but it doesn't seem to be happening.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't. And what's interesting about this, Max, after that press conference by the foreign minister, rather than take questions from the several dozen journalists who were in the room, he was ushered away by a government official, which gives the impression that they didn't want to get into any further details, other than that statement itself.

Obviously, what we're hearing from Misurata, what we're hearing from Ajdabiya (AUDIO GAP) does indicate that the cease is, perhaps, not being heeded by the army on the ground at the moment. That's certainly the impression, at the bare minimum, that it creates.

And the other way we can analyze the situation is there are plenty of journalists here who would like to go to Misurata. The government could have provided plenty of vehicles for U.S. to do that today, to see how the cease-fire was being enforced. They didn't. So it's very hard to get away from the conclusion that while the government says one thing, something else is happening on the ground here -- Max.

FOSTER: And what's the sense about the international action?

Is that imminent or is that days away, as far as Tripoli is concerned?

ROBERTSON: Again, the calculation is -- the calculation is being made by the government that they have some time to continue with military operations, as it seems to appear. And

listening to the deputy foreign minister last night say that he didn't think the air strikes were close, it gives the impression, at least, that the leadership here thinks the air strikes are a little time away, that the international community has yet to organize itself and they can continue with military action on the ground.


ROBERTSON: And the difficulty for any type of air strike or what have you in -- in Misurata, for example, is this is an urban environment. This is an urban environment where civilians are living. It would be very hard to see how the international community could quickly figure out who and what to strike in Misurata that would avoid collateral civilian casualties, which, if that happened, would clearly play to the government here.

So perhaps the government's also realizing it's got some time there, that technically, even, that the international community is going to struggle to put together some kind of intervention in somewhere like Misurata -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Nic in Tripoli.

Thank you very much, indeed.

The big focus right now, then, figuring out if the Gadhafi regime is making any effort to enforce a cease-fire. Witnesses insist the fighting is still raging.

Earlier, a doctor called in, saying the city of Misurata is under siege. He did not want to be identified for safety reasons.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dictator is telling the world that he has declared a cease fire. Misrata is in fire -- on fire as we speak. He's bombing the city from three directions. From three directions bombs are coming into the city and he's bombing his way and shooting his way to the center of the city, which he hasn't succeeded in doing.

He's trying to take Misrata and at all costs. Misrata is the last standing city on the west coast. He will try to take it today at all costs.

He is killing people left and right. There is no cease-fire. Please tell the world there is no cease-fire. He is killing people, civilians in Misrata now.


FOSTER: CNN can't independently confirm witness accounts and it's impossible to tell whether government forces got wind of the cease-fire.

If NATO and others move ahead with military action, how might an international operation unfold?

That's what we're going to ask next.

With me is Colonel Bob Stewart, former commander of U.N. forces in Bosnia, a conservative member of Britain's parliament, as well.

Thank you so much for joining U.S..

First of all, if you could, let's talk about the U.N. resolution.

And as you understand it, what does that allow the international community to do?

COL. BOB STEWART, FORMER COMMANDER OF U.N. FORCES IN BOSNIA: It allows the international community, it gives them top cover, legalistic top cover. And that legalistic top cover allows them to fly over Libya and bring down Libyan jets or helicopters that are involved in fighting, strike anti-aircraft missiles on the ground and -- and also any guns that might be pointed at our aircraft, and, indeed, take out tanks or artillery firing at Libyan -- well, the rebel positions. That's what it allows U.S. to do.

And it -- we are actually determined on that, because "all necessary measures" was the clause. It's a Chapter 7 resolution, very powerful, indeed.

FOSTER: And a reference there to occupation, but it doesn't rule out, does it, ground troops or special forces going in and coming out, which is an informed backup, isn't it, to the no-fly zone?

STEWART: Actually, it does rule that out. It rules out, actually, troop -- ground troops going in. It's slightly hazy as to whether people can go in and out, special forces. But I -- as -- as we understand it, as in parliament, it doesn't. But I asked the prime minister today, in the House of Commons, whether it does allow U.S. to get around the arms embargo so that, actually, we could arm the -- those revolutionaries in Benghazi and give them weapons to actually take out Gadhafi's forces (INAUDIBLE) --

FOSTER: And his response?

STEWART: His response was -- was that, you know, they're looking at that sort of thing. I think --

FOSTER: Arming the rebels?

STEWART: Well, they're looking at it. Frankly, we have got a U.N. arms embargo on the whole of Libya. We -- there are some things we can't do. For example, we couldn't hang, draw and quarter Gadhafi, which some of U.S. might want to do, to be honest, because he's such a tyrant.

But the fact of the matter is, if I am pushing hard in the parliament and some of my conservative colleagues and some on the opposite side of our House of Commons are saying, actually, we should go in -- go into Libya by allowing the rebel -- the -- the rebels or the revolutionaries or the freedom fighters, whatever -- giving them the means to deal with it.

I sat in Bosnia, in '92-'93, as the British commander and watched heavily armed troops shoot down and rampage through civilian areas. And I felt sick at heart.

Thank goodness we've actually got a strong resolution this time to deal with it.

Now, the Americans, bless them, are actually having some decent support this time. The British are there. The French are there.

FOSTER: But --

STEWART: And so are the Arabs.

FOSTER: But this is the interesting thing, isn't it, is it enough support?

You've got Italy wavering a bit. You've got Germany pretty much against it.

You haven't got enough Arab support, really, have you?

So politically, post-Iraq, have you got enough global support to make this legitimate?

You're really just talking the U.S., France and U.K., aren't you?

STEWART: The legitimacy comes from the Security Council resolution -- Security Council Resolution 1973 tells every nation in the world that the Security Council has given authority for all nations to take part in an operation against Gadhafi, to actually take -- to ensure the safety of the people Libya. FOSTER: You believe in a representative military, don't you, going in there, not just some three countries?

STEWART: Well, I think we'll have more than that, actually, in the end --

FOSTER: But the bulk will be from three countries?

STEWART: Well, the bulk may well be. But we're not going in, we're flying above.


STEWART: And, actually, we've got the forces to do that. And the French say they're ready already. And let's -- great. Let's see the French go in first, before the Americans.

FOSTER: OK. As a military expert and as a politician now, explain when you think this is likely to happen.

If the cease-fire hasn't taken place and Gadhafi's people are still carrying on with what they're carrying on with, at what point do you think U.K., French, U.S. air strikes could take place?

STEWART: At any moment (INAUDIBLE).

FOSTER: This weekend?

STEWART: Absolutely.


STEWART: I mean Gadhafi, pull back, get out of the front lines, don't terrorize your people anymore, because if you do, you are liable to find that we will be taking action against you, in accordance with the opinion of the world's greatest forum, the Security Council of the United Nations.

FOSTER: Colonel Bob Stewart, thank you very much, indeed, for joining U.S..

Much more on Libya coming up on the show, including a divided Europe, a rift is widening between the -- the bloc's big three. We've been talking about that. We'll look at that again.



FOSTER: Japanese -- Japanese officials have raised the danger level of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from four to five. That means a release of radioactive material is likely, along with severe damage at the reactor core.

Take a look at this graphic and you can see there that level five is where we're at now. That is on a par with the Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania back in 1979.

The Chernobyl disaster was a level seven.

Workers at the Fukushima plant are still frantically trying to cool spent fuel rods at the plants. It's worth noting the that reason for this new elevation is based not on past damage, not on new fears, and despite the new serious assessment, the country's nuclear agency says expanding the 20 kilometer evacuation zone isn't necessary.

Let's get the latest now from Martin Savidge.

He's joining U.S. from Tokyo.

How do you rate the current alert level -- Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, it's -- it's one of those where you're not quite sure exactly what to make of this. Of course, the fact that the level goes up is of great concern for many people here. But as you pointed out, it's not based on something that specifically happened today. It's based on cumulative -- meaning you have a number of explosions during the week. We do know that some of the reactor cores may have been exposed.

But also today, they flew over that facility. And they got a pretty good look from a helicopter. And it's one of the first times they've had this chance. Plus, they're getting new telemetry from the U.S. surveillance aircraft.

All of that combined is telling them that the situation on the ground is as bad as they feared. As a result of that, they decided they should up the level.

By the way, just so you know, the terminology, when they talk about this level five, they say that the event is of broader consequences. There's the potential for significant public exposure and there's been damage to the core. All of those things we know.

At this hour, just coming on 5:30 in the morning here, Saturday morning, and the crews are still hard at work. They go 24-7. Fire crews are rotating between spraying water onto those reactors with these new fire trucks they got from downtown Tokyo and then, also, after they stop and withdraw, you have other crews that go in and are trying to frantically hook up the electricity, first with generations then maybe with the main line power.

The reason they want to do that, Max, is because if they can get the power back on there, they hope to get the main pump started, which would go a long way to help try to stabilize things.

But the truth is, Max, nobody knows, after the tsunamis and the explosions that they've had out there, if those pumps are going to work. So it's like throwing everything you've got at it and hoping something sticks -- Max.

FOSTER: And what are the Japanese people making of this as they see it unfold on their TV screens from where you are, for example, in Tokyo?

SAVIDGE: Well, they're afraid. I mean they're fearful of what they see, mainly because there is a skepticism that has grown during this whole disaster, that they don't fully believe either the government or the company. It's not that they're not telling them the truth. They do believe they're being truthful. They just believe that they're holding things back and are very slow to reveal information.

Part of that is sort of societal in the sense that the Japanese people are -- very much like to give you the answer when they know the answer, before they give it to you. In other words, they don't like to reveal information and speculate on it. So that's why it's been slow coming out.

Quite frankly, many Japanese are saying, look, just tell U.S. how bad is it. We can take it as long as we believe that you're telling U.S. when we need to know it -- Max.

FOSTER: Martin Savidge in Tokyo.

Thank you.

The situation at the Fukushima plant is still very serious, of course. But the risk of a terrible nuclear catastrophe in Japan does appear to be declining a bit.

Stan Grant looks at whether the world over reacts when things go wrong at nuclear plants.


STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A stricken nuclear plant, talk of meltdown, radiation leaking, fire and explosions -- no wonder people are scared.

Terumi Tanaka survived the atomic bomb of Nagasaki. He knows about nuclear fear and suspects people here are not getting the truth.

"The company is hiding information," he says. "They're not telling the truth."

He says radioactive substances are spewing out of the plant but they're not coming clean about the dangers.

Some U.S. officials have even questioned the Japanese government's radiation readings. Each new crisis has officials here scrambling for answers -- reassurances day after day that no one is at risk.

YUKIO EDANO, JAPANESE CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY (through translator): As a whole, the radiation measurements have not been serious -- serious enough as to have health effects. Although some readings are high, but these values are not the ones that pose direct human threat today. But this all depends on other conditions -- environmental monitoring conditions.

GRANT: To critics, the official response is often too little and too late. But beyond the mistrust is often misinformation.

Dan Polanski (ph) specializes in weapons of mass destruction and knows about radiation. He says science and fact get lost in panic -- radio phobia.

DAN POLANSKI, RADIATION EXPERT: What radio phobia is, is people hear that word, radiation, and immediately think of the worst case scenario, that they're going to, you know --

GRANT (on camera): We're all going to die.

POLANSKI: We're all going to die. We're all going to turn into the toxic avenger and start mutating.

GRANT: Fact -- Fukushima is no Chernobyl -- not yet, anyway. In the Soviet reactor, workers died within weeks. In the final phase of that disaster, radiation hit levels of 6,000 millisieverts an hour. Fukushima Daiichi's peak has been 400 millisieverts per hour and that's at the red hot center of the plant itself.

Nuclear industry figures show you need more than double that before you get radiation sickness. Even for the heroic workers, prolonged exposure, says Dan Polanski, could make them sick, but not killed.

(on camera): . It sounds scary, 400.

Is it?

POLANSKI: No. It's -- it's not -- it sounds scary, but it's not.

GRANT (voice-over): And here's another thing -- radiation levels peak and drop within minutes and depend on the distance from the hot zone.

(on camera): Imagine this intersection is the perimeter of the Daiichi nuclear plant. I'm standing here at one of the reactor sites. I get a high radiation reading. We're crossing to the other side, to the front gate, it's like 30 or 40 meters away. And according to the official readings, it could be significantly lower.

(voice-over): But that all depends on the quality of information, information people simply often don't trust. In the face of crisis, fact whispers and fear screams.

Stan Grant, CNN, Tokyo.


FOSTER: That's the story, then, from Japan.

And we're staying on top of Libya's civil war for you, as well, our other top story, as the rebels celebrate the threat of international military intervention, there's a divide among Western allies, especially in Europe, with a key player holding back.


FOSTER: You're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Max Foster at CNN London.

Coming up, from the West to Libya, a new threat from three world powers, while a key European player stays on the sidelines.

In Japan, shell-shocked, cold, and hungry, people wait in long lines for bare necessities. But now, there are signs of progress.

Plus -- we'll look back at the devastation from the dual disasters that turned Japan upside down. A lot has happened this past week.

All those stories ahead in the show for you but, first, a check of the headlines this hour.

There are reports of heavy fighting in Libya even though the Gadhafi regime has announced an immediate cease-fire. Hours after the U.N. Security Council approved a no-fly zone, Libya's foreign minister said all military operations were being halted, but witnesses say ongoing government shelling in Misrata and Ajdabiya have not stopped.

Workers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continue critical efforts to cool spent fuel rods at a damaged reactor, and the country's nuclear safety agency on Friday raised the crisis level from 4 to 5.

A landmark that had been the sight of massive anti-government protests in Bahrain is now gone. Government security forces demolished the Pearl monument. The opposition calls the move provocative.

A state of emergency is in place in Yemen. It comes as a violent crackdown is underway on anti-government protesters on the streets of the capital. At least 40 people have been killed, 100 wounded.

Turning back, now, to our top story. The announcement of a cease-fire and reports of more violence in Libya. Let's take a step back. As we mentioned, the U.N. passed a resolution on Thursday imposing a no-fly zone. But what exactly does that mean?

Well, the no-fly zone would see fighter jets preventing Libya's military aircraft from entering designated air space. If they enter, the pilots would be warned to leave. If they fail to leave, they would be fired on.

But U.S. military officials say the speed and altitude of the jets would make it hard to target Gadhafi's helicopters. The U.N. resolution does not spell out whether Libyan ground forces could be targeted, but it is more than just a no-fly zone. The resolution calls for, quote, "All necessary measures to protect civilians" and only rules out a foreign occupying force.

This just into CNN. Malta says it will not be used as a military base to enforce a no-fly zone. The tiny island nation is actually the closest European country to Libya. Malta's starts comes on the heels of a new ultimatum from Western powers.

According to the office of the French president, France, the U.S., and Britain have called on Moammar Gadhafi to immediately halt the attacks on Benghazi and remove Libyan troops from several cities, or face military intervention. Senior International Correspondent Jim Bittermann has more on the French stance.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Government sources saying that they cannot confirm the reports on Agence France-Presse that President Sarkozy will call for limited air strikes against Libyan target when the heads of the European Union meet in Brussels tomorrow to talk over the Libyan situation.

The French are, nonetheless, taking a very forward-leading position, especially diplomatically, as far as the fighting in Libya is concerned. President Sarkozy met with representatives of the Transitional National Council today, and after that meeting said that there would be an exchange of ambassadors between Paris and Benghazi as the French government recognizes officially and diplomatically the Transitional National Council as the true representative of the Libyan people.

Now, as for the French, do they support what the government is doing? One of the things that came out in a survey taken this afternoon is that a vast majority of French do not think that there should be any military action against Libya, even with the United Nations mandate. About 63 percent, according to that survey, would be against any military action that involved French troops. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


FOSTER: Well, Britain has also taken a strong position against the Libyan crackdown and has been one of the biggest backers of the U.N.- mandated no-fly zone. Phil Black explains why the U.K. has a special interest in this conflict.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here at 10 Downing Street, Libya's announcement of a cease-fire was met with significant skepticism by the British prime minister.

DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: We will judge him by his actions, not his words. What is absolutely clear is the U.N. Security Council resolution says he must stop what he's doing, brutalizing his people. If not, all necessary measures can follow to make him stop. That is what we agreed last night, that is what we are preparing for. And we'll judge him by what he does.

BLACK: Libya's declaration that it would end military operations came after the British prime minister had already met with his cabinet and made a statement to the British parliament explaining why he believed it was important for Britain to play an active role in this military intervention.

He gave away only some details of what is being planned. He said that British warplanes, including fighter bombers, reconnaissance aircraft, and air-to-air refuelers are already being prepped for deployment. He said they would be sent to other air bases, although he didn't name them from where they would enforce the United Nations Security Council resolution.

The prime minster said that he had been speaking to a number of Arab leaders in recent days who are keen to participate in that military effort, although he didn't name them, either.

And he spoke of why he believed it was in Britain's interests to play this important, active role, and he said one of the reasons is because Britain knows what Colonel Gadhafi is capable of. He didn't refer to it by name, but he was talking about the worst-ever terror attack in Britain, the bombing of Pan Am -- over Lockerbie, Scotland, an attack which killed 270 people and for which Libya later claimed responsibility. Phil Black, CNN, London.


FOSTER: And while Britain and France get ready for military action, Germany appears to be the odd one out, and that's causing somewhat of a divide. Frederik Pleitgen is in Berlin for U.S..

They supported the U.N. resolution, didn't they, Fred? But not the military action, it seems.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they abstained from the U.N. resolution. That was already something that caused a lot of controversy, not only here in Europe, but really, between Germany and the other members of the U.N. Security Council who, of course, backed the U.N. resolution.

Now, the Germans said their main problem with all of this is that they felt that military action against the Libyan dictator could cause more instability in that entire region. Could be bad for the humanitarian efforts, there. And they also believe that they have a big fear of possibly getting sucked into something bigger.

They said something like this cannot be done in a surgical way. They fear that there will be civilian casualties, and it could lead to a broader engagement.

I want to just listen in to what the German ambassador to the U.N. had to say after this vote. Let's listen in.


PETER WITTIG, GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: If the steps proposed turn out to be ineffective, we see the danger of being drawn into a protracted military conflict would affect the wider region.

We should not enter a military confrontation on the optimistic assumption that quick results with few casualties will be achieved.

Germany, therefore, has decided not to support a military option.


PLEITGEN: So, essentially, what the Germans are saying is that once that came to the conclusion that they were not going to send troops, they also came to the conclusion that they could not fully support this U.N. resolution.

Now, what the Germans are willing to do, Max, and this is quite interesting, because Angela Merkel is, actually, going to that big meeting in Paris tomorrow to talk to all these other heads of state and heads of government who are going to participate in all of this, is that the Germans say they are willing to take on more responsibilities in Afghanistan to compensate for those countries that have to move assets out of Afghanistan to take part in the no-fly zone.

So, there is sort of a little bit of support. But certainly, no German soldiers are going to be taking part in any sort of military action, Max.

FOSTER: Fred Pleitgen in Berlin. Thank you.

Well, ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, we return to Japan. Coming up, the story of one family who has returned home after the devastating quake. What was waiting for them was indescribable.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I have no word to express my feelings. I lost my mind. We will have to start from zero.


FOSTER: Lucky to be alive, but looking at an uncertain future. That's up next on CNN.



FOSTER: A nation falls silent, remember the moment one week ago when a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan.


FOSTER: This is all that's left of the town of Unosumai a week after one of the biggest earthquakes in history set in motion a catastrophic chain of events. Widespread panics, several massive aftershocks, and a tsunami up to ten meters high that wiped out entire towns.

Japanese media is reporting difficult conditions inside the shelters where some 380,000 survivors are now living. A shortage of kerosene is making it hard to heat them and, according to state media, 25 people have died.

The death toll in this disaster has risen to nearly 7,000. Many more are still missing. The prime minister calls the tragedy "a great test" for his country.

Rescuers in Japan face a dangerous and grim task. But as Brian Todd reports, they're willing to put themselves in harm's way if it means finding just one person alive in the rubble.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tome Carver and Brad Haywood have to move fast. Someone could be waiting. They sledgehammer. Kick. Shoulder their way into every available opening.

TODD (on camera): You guys look like you like to break things.


TODD (voice-over): They're called Technical Rescue Specialists with the Fairfax County, Virginia, team. But they're more like storm troopers. These guys have to barrel into the most dangerous structures after an earthquake or tsunami and look for survivors.

They lower their way into unknown danger, contort into every possible opening, and ascend taller buildings that seem to be on the verge of collapse. It's one of the most treacherous jobs you can imagine.

TODD (on camera): What was your closest call?

CARVER: Down in Haiti, we were -- we were tunneling through a building and there was some decent aftershocks and -- you're in a small hole, hard way in, hard way out, so sometimes you've just got to protect in place and hope for the best and knowing your team's behind you to come get you if there is something that happens.

TODD (voice-over): On that day, Carver tunneled his way out. On this one, we're in Ofunato, Japan, where the tsunamis waters came up to the third floor of this hotel. We followed this team as they navigate blocked staircases, scale walls, and squeeze through narrow crags, knowing the floor could give way with any step, or an aftershock could bring the whole building down on U.S..

TODD (on camera): Not only very dangerous, but kind of painstaking, as well. We're combing through the basement of this building, and they've got to check, basically, every door that's shut -- that's wedged shut. Here's a door to a small bathroom, just on the off chance that someone could be in there, under the sink, here. Every crevice in a building like this with millions of crevices has to be checked.

TODD (voice-over): When we emerge, a distinct mark is painted on the building, a signal to other rescue teams who might pass.

TODD (on camera): This signifies you didn't find anything.

BRAD HAYWOOD, FAIRFAX COUNTY SEARCH-RESCUE: No victims, no hazards. And it identifies the team.


FOSTER: Well -- we are getting reports the Libyan foreign minister is speaking to the international media, of course, following the U.N. resolution of the no-fly zone over the country. We're going to just listen into that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, thank you. That's very kind. So now, I don't care about the distraction. As long as I look good.



KAALIM: Good evening. Ready?


KAALIM: OK. I'm here to confirm to you that the statement made by the -- our minister of foreign of affairs this morning is a credible, real, and valid.

And because of that, we are calling for observers from Malta, China, Turkey, and Germany to come to Libya as soon as possible, maybe in a matter of hours, to make sure that there is a real cease-fire on the ground and to go to areas where there is the -- still some canters -- they are not believing that there is a real cease-fire on the ground.

And hopefully by tomorrow, we'll receive the response from those countries. I repeat, the name of the countries are calling for -- inviting to send observers to make sure that the decision by the Libyan authorities are stopping for the cease-fire has been implemented on the ground. Those countries are Malta, China, Turkey, and Germany.

And the door is open for any other countries to send observers. This is, briefly -- our announcement for today.

Also, I have to --



FOSTER: A Libyan government news conference, there. We've just been hearing, there, from the deputy foreign minister, apparently responding to claims that the cease-fire that the government announced earlier today is not taking place, reports of fighting in many parts of Libya, still.

We're going to tune back in, because we understand some questions are going to be asked.


KAALIM (through translator): And all of the military operations performed --

KAALIM (in English): Limited, limited, limited.

KAALIM (through translator): Limited military operations performed before in the last few days and the last few weeks did not cause the death of any civilians.

And all of those who were killed in these military operations are either elements of the armed forces or the security forces -- or those from the armed militias.

As for the presence of the army in and around most of Libyan towns and cities, we consider this important for the security and safety of all the civilians around Libya.

But this is not related to the cease-fire we have decided upon.

The cease-fire for U.S. means no military operations whatsoever, big or small.

The other important point is that the armed forces are now located outside the city of Benghazi and we have no intention of entering the city.

The last remark, and it's directed at the French president --

That instead of his statement, which spread terror and horror among the Libyan population --

KAALIM (in English): Civilians.

KAALIM (through translator): Civilian population.

It would have been more productive from him to send observers on the ground to make sure that we are not violating our decisions for the cease- fire and the protection of civilians.

As for the countries we have invited to send observers on the ground to make sure that we comply with the cease-fire, we urge them to send their observers as soon as possible.

My last remark is that there is clearly a media and psychological war performed by some media and institutions and some other institutions.

Targeting the morale of the Libyan nation.

These media organizations spread the lies about air bombardments and shelling of Libyan cities and neighborhoods.

But in fact, life in most Libyan cities is very normal.

And we are hoping that it will continue to be the case for all Libyan cities to have normal daily life.

We hope to meet you tomorrow to comment on the issue of the observers. We are hopeful that by tomorrow we will receive international observers.

On the 20th of this month, we will receive the African presidential committee that will observe the facts on the ground.

And let me take this chance to invite the General Secretary (sic) of the United Nations.

Invite him to send a fact-finding mission as soon as possible to come to Libya and observe facts on the ground.

Because we believe that there are crimes against humanity committed by the rebels.

In Benghazi, and also in Misrata in the last few days.

And we are prepared to give any committee from the U.N. the names of the persons involved in these crimes.

And the names of the victims who were killed and their body mutilated.

This is another challenge or test for the international community.

If justice is, indeed, the target or the aim of the international community, then a fact-finding mission should be sent to Libya as soon as possible.

But if the case is that there is a hidden agenda against Libya, then what can we do? It's a completely different matter.

And I thank all of you.


KAALIM (in English): OK.

QUESTION (through translator): Two questions. The first is, there are rumors today that the -- some of the rebels say that there was a bombardment or an attack on Misrata and Zliten. What is your comment?

KAALIM (through translator): The entire Libyan air force is, basically, out of service for the last few days, the last two days, at least.

The -- and anyway, the Libyan air forces were never involved in the military operations, even before --

Ah, since before the -- our declaration of the cease-fire, the Libyan air force was not involved in the military operations. That's correct?

KAALIM (in English): Yes.

KAALIM (through translator): Even the evacuation processes, the Libyan air force were not involved. Your second question is about?

QUESTION (through translator): The question is, if the rebels attack, will you attack back?

KAALIM (through translator): This is a natural result. That's why we're asking for observers. Because now we have a party that is armed.

And even the Security Council in its resolution, it talks clearly about armed parties.

And so, since we agree that there are armed parties, more than one armed party, then if one attacks, the other has the right to defend.


QUESTION: (OFF MIKE) -- we have many observers here.

TRANSLATOR: No, you are not observers, are you? You are not observers. Come on.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) -- we're observers.

TRANSLATOR: You are the media.

KAALIM (in English): Media different from the observers. Observers, they have --


KAALIM (in English): We were talking to the department of foreign press about the -- facilitating your trip to Misrata.

KAALIM (in English): I wish that this trip will take place, if not tomorrow morning, maybe tomorrow evening.


KAALIM (in English): We will call them back tonight.


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Secretary Clinton has stated that the cease-fire would also require a pullback from what she described as Eastern Libya. Are you also prepared to pull back forces from the east Libyan -- ?

KAALIM (in English): That's why we are calling for observers on the ground. Because as -- now what's going on now, whenever we say that there is a cease-fire, then we see Mrs. Clinton and Alain Juppe saying that, no, the fighting is still ongoing and there is no cease-fire. Then let's send the -- let's have the observers on the ground to make sure that this is the reality.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) -- she's also calling for a withdrawal from the east --

KAALIM (in English): This is a technical issue. This is for the observers to decide, how many kilometers and where the army has to reposition themselves. This is all technical stuff.


TRANSLATOR: Let me translate, please, because we have some national Arab viewers.

FOSTER: The Libyan deputy foreign minister, speaking to the media, there. He said several things. He said, first of all, the cease-fire has not been broken. No military operations whatsoever have been taking place. They have no intention of entering Benghazi, and the presence of forces is for the security of civilians only. He's inviting observers from Germany, China, Turkey, and Malta to go there to check the holding of this cease- fire.

More coming up on CNN. Right now, though, it's "BACKSTORY."