BRUSSELS – Britain's government urged Libyan authorities on Monday to immediately end violence against pro-democracy demonstrators and open a genuine dialogue on reforms that would go much further than the limited concessions the government has offered.
Other EU nations also sharply condemned Libya's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. They warned about the possible break-up of that country and a massive inflow of migrants into Europe if the bloodshed continues.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Libya to investigate the violence and hold those responsible to account, to allow international human rights monitors into the country, and to end restrictions on the internet and the harassment of journalists.
"The credibility of the Libyan government in these matters has been undermined so far by their failure to protect their own people and to respond to their legitimate grievances," Hague said as he arrived for a meeting in Brussels of EU foreign ministers about the crisis.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called for EU aid for the affected Mediterranean countries in order to stimulate their economies and provide job opportunities for young people.
"We need a European comprehensive action plan," Frattini said. "We should support all peaceful transitional processes that are ongoing in the Middle East while avoiding a patronizing position."
Frattini expressed concern about a possible civil war and breakup of Libya, saying he feared that an Islamic state could be set up in the area bordering Egypt.
"I'm very concerned about the idea of dividing Libya in two, in Cyrenaica and in Tripoli. That would be really dangerous," he said. Cyrenaica is the country's eastern region, where the largest anti-government protests have taken place.
Libya has seen the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country of the wave of protests sweeping the region that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. Since the six days of unrest began, more than 200 people have been killed in Libya, according to medical officials, human rights groups and exiled dissidents.
On Sunday, Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi's son went on Libyan television and offered to put forward reforms within days that he described as "historic." Seif al-Islam Gadhafi said the regime was willing to remove some restrictions and begin discussions on a constitution. He also offered to change a number of laws, including those covering the media and the penal code.
But Gadhafi's son also said Libya's armed forces are with his father, and "We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."
In Europe, some ministers struck a conciliatory note, saying the EU should not impose its solutions on the countries of Northern Africa. Frattini said he hoped the government and protesters could work together to draw up a new constitution as proposed by Gadhafi's son.
"We Europeans are very concerned about the migratory flows impact that would be one of the consequences of more turbulence in North Africa," Frattini said.
The government in Tripoli has threatened to discontinue cooperation with the EU in blocking immigration from the North Africa to Europe, if the bloc continues backing the protesters.
"The European Union should not let itself be blackmailed (by Gadhafi)," said Werner Hoyer, Germany's state minister for foreign affairs.
AP writer Raf Casert contributed from Brussels.