Nato has delivered a rebuff to Barack Obama by insisting that the alliance will enforce an arms embargo on all of Libya, including rebel-held territory.
nders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary general, warned the American president and Britain's prime minister yesterday that the alliance's air and sea blockade would be used to stop all arms shipments.
"We are there to protect the Libyan people, not to arm the Libyan people," he said. "As far as Nato is concerned we will focus on the enforcement of the arms embargo and the clear purpose of an arms embargo is to stop the flow of weapons into the country."
Mr Cameron has refused to rule out arming the rebels and stressed that the UN resolution authorising countries to take military action does "not necessarily rule out the provision of assistance in certain circumstances".
"I do think we should be helping the democratic forces in Benghazi," he said.
"It is a group of people that want to be interim; they want to be a transition to democracy in Libya. In that, they should have our full support."
The alliance took full command and control of military operations in Libya yesterday as splits deepened over British and American calls for the arming of rebels. (© Daily Telegraph, London)