Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- The Arab League voted Saturday to back a no-fly zone in Libya and is asking that the U.N. Security Council impose the measure, officials of the regional body told reporters.
"It has one goal: To protect the civilian population," Amre Moussa, the body's secretary-general said.
"We will inform the U.N. Security Council of our request to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya," Moussa said. "The U.N. Security Council should decide how it will be enforced."
Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Oman's foreign minister who joined Moussa to answer questions, said the no-fly zone would be a preventive measure and would have to be stopped immediately when the Libyan crisis ends.
He said Arab League members have reservations about military intervention, but said all countries agreed that a no-fly zone must be imposed urgently to protect civilians.
"We hope the Libyan authorities will respect a no-fly decision," he said. "Be assured the Arab countries will not accept the intervention of the NATO coalition."
Moussa said the league also voted to open channels of communication with the Transitional National Council, the Libyan opposition's newly formed administration, and that any talks with that body would be on a humanitarian basis.
"We are giving them legitimacy but we're not giving them political recognition," Moussa said. "We are prepared to help evacuate any Arab nationals from Libya regardless of their nationality."
The Arab League also called for immediate humanitarian assistance and an end to the bloodshed in Libya, where civil war has broken out between forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi and a tenacious opposition movement.
The White House cheered the League's announcements and stressed it will continue to pressure Gadhafi, support the opposition and prepare for "all contingencies."