Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Libya: Allies meet for Libya conference in London

Libyan rebel vehicles on the road between between Ras Lanouf and Sirte on Monday Libyan rebels have seized control of several towns from forces loyal to Col 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 about 40 delegations would ensure "maximum political and diplomatic unity".
Foreign Secretary William Hague met a Libyan opposition envoy before the summit to discuss humanitarian needs.
Mr Hague said of Col Muammar Gaddafi: "We want him to go, to leave power."
But he denied the coalition was involved in "regime change" in Libya.
He told BBC News: "We're not in control of where he might go. I'm not going to choose Col Gaddafi's retirement home.
"Of course I believe he should face the ICC [International Criminal Court]. But of course where he goes, if he goes, is up to him and the people of Libya to determine and we will not necessarily be in control of that."
At a meeting of the UK cabinet ahead of the summit, ministers were updated on the progress of the military campaign and on Mr Hague's meeting with the rebel representative.
'No 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.


The see-sawing military fortunes of the government and opposition forces in Libya make the establishment of a coherent diplomatic strategy for the country that much harder.
By the nature of these things, if the Gaddafi regime were to collapse it might do so very suddenly. But equally some kind of military stalemate may result with the country divided between government and opposition forces.
Part of the purpose of today's London conference is to bolster the coalition for the path ahead. But equally the goal is to begin to elaborate a political future for Libya independent of Col Gaddafi. That is not helped by the fact that the opposition is more akin to a popular revolt than a coherent political formation.
Regime change - we are told by the British, French and US leaders - is not on the agenda, but nonetheless, they all say, Col Gaddafi must go.
But if the coalition bombing of his military forces on the ground doesn't shift him, the question remains, what then?
The countries' leaders said Col Gaddafi's regime had completely lost its legitimacy.
Libyan Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) special envoy Mahmoud Jabril met Mr Hague before the conference started at the foreign secretary's request, but the Foreign Office said no opposition representatives would attend the conference.
In a statement, Mr Hague said: "The ITNC is an important and legitimate political interlocutor and the UK is committed to strengthening our contacts with a wide range of members of the Libyan opposition who are working to create a Libya where the legitimate aspirations of its people can be met.
"We considered how best the UK, as well as other attendees at today's London conference, can best support the Libyan people, and I asked for Mr Jabril's assessment of the humanitarian needs in Libya and priorities for international assistance."
Mr Cameron will also meet Mr Jabril later on Tuesday, and the PM's spokesman said that although members of the ITNC would not be present at the summit, their views would be reflected.
"We are not discussing a solution and how to impose it on the Libyan people. We are discussing how the international community can best support the process of transition," he said.
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.
But Russia, which says the action has gone beyond the terms of the UN resolution that authorised it, said it would not attend.
Attendees include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and UN Special Envoy for Libya Abdelilah Mohamed al-Khatib.

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We were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence.”
US President Barack Obama
The shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, said he would like to see a "deepening and broadening" of the coalition.
He told BBC News on Tuesday: "There will need to be greater clarity of the relationship between the Nato command and control structure and the broader political groupings meeting in London today."
Mr Alexander also suggested that the international community should name a single individual to take charge of the overall humanitarian effort in Libya.
'Countless lives' Nato began two days ago to take 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 Barack Obama insisted US military involvement would be limited.
He said US intervention had saved "countless lives" threatened by the forces of the "tyrant" Col Gaddafi, but having led the initial campaign, the US would hand over to Nato allies on Wednesday.
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.
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