Monday, March 28, 2011

Libya: Allies meet for Libya conference in London

Rebel fighters move across the desert in pursuit of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi some 120km (75 miles) east of Sirte on 28 March 2011 Libyan rebels have seized control of several towns from forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi
Members of the international community are to hold a meeting in London later to discuss the next steps for Libya amid the UN-backed military action.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he hoped the meeting of around 40 delegations would ensure "maximum political and diplomatic unity".
In a statement, the UK and France urged supporters of Muammar Gaddafi to "leave him before it is too late".
The countries' leaders said his regime had completely lost its legitimacy.
Tuesday's conference will bring together all members of the coalition in the military operation, as well as the UN, Nato, the African Union and Arab League.
It is hoped the presence of Arab countries Qatar, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates will help to strengthen the alliance behind military action.
The conference will also examine the provision of humanitarian aid.
In a joint statement on Monday, Mr Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the conference would "bring the international community together to support Libya's transition from violent dictatorship and to help create the conditions where the people of Libya can choose their own future".
Addressing the people of Libya, the statement said the Gaddafi regime had completely lost its legitimacy and Libya's leader must "go immediately".
Transition process "We call on all his followers to leave him before it is too late. We call on all Libyans who believe that Gaddafi is leading Libya into a disaster to take the initiative now to organise a transition process," it said.
Mr Sarkozy and Mr Cameron held a conference call with US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday to discuss a Franco-British proposal to help pave the way for a political transition, the French presidency said.
On Sunday, Nato began taking over control of the coalition military action, which is aimed at enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya and protecting civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Col Gaddafi.
Nato has denied air strikes are meant to provide cover for a rebel advance.
Addressing Americans on Monday evening, President Obama defended the first war launched under his presidency, insisting US military involvement in Libya would be limited.
He said US intervention had saved "countless lives" threatened by the forces of the "tyrant" Muammar Gaddafi.
But having led the initial campaign, the US would hand over to Nato allies on Wednesday, he said.
Anti-Gaddafi rebels have seized a number of coastal communities and important oil installations in recent days, including Ras Lanuf, Brega, Uqayla and Bin Jawad.
However, repeated attacks by government troops have prevented them reaching Sirte, a symbolic target for the rebels as the birthplace of Col Gaddafi.
air strikes map 28 March
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