Arab League bars Libya from bloc's meetings

The Arab League has barred Libya from attending meetings of the bloc until it ends its violent crackdown on protesters, which it said involved violations of human rights and international laws.

The 22-member group met Tuesday in Cairo to discuss the escalating showdown between protesters and Libya's ruler of 42 years, Moammar Gadhafi.

A League statement read out by Secretary-General Amr Moussa strongly condemned what it called crimes against civilians, the recruiting of foreign mercenaries and the use of live ammunition and heavy weapons by Libyan forces. Its censure did not amount to a suspension of Libya's membership in the organization.

Gadhafi's crackdown has already been the harshest in the Arab world to the wave of anti-government protests sweeping the Middle East. Nearly 300 people have been killed, according to a partial count by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The Arab League said the use of military forces against protesters was "a grave violation of the human rights and the international laws."

Moussa said the ban on Libya's participation at League meetings will remain in place until it "meets Arab demands to immediately stop all violence, by all forms and launch dialogue to guarantee the Libyan people's security and stability."

The League also urged Libya to lift all restrictions on media and communications and ensure that medical aid is provided to the wounded.

Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, who resigned Sunday as Libya's ambassador to the Arab League, did not attend the meeting. In a statement Monday, al-Houni demanded that Gadhafi and his commanders and aides be put on trial for "the mass killings in Libya."