World Leaders Discuss Libya After Gadhafi

Posted September 1st, 2011 at 4:40 am (UTC-5)
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World leaders are gathering in France Thursday to discuss Libya's future after Moammar Gadhafi, as Russia became the latest country to recognize the National Transitional Council as the country's legitimate authority.

The conference in Paris brings together officials from 60 countries, including those that have backed the NTC for months as well as those that have not recognized the provisional authority.

Officials expect NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil to outline an 18-month roadmap to creating a new constitution and holding elections.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are among the leaders attending the meeting hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

China and Russia, which have criticized NATO's campaign of airstrikes in Libya carried out under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians, are also sending representatives to the talks. Russia's Foreign Ministry said Thursday it recognizes the NTC as Libya's “ruling authority” and notes the council's reform plans.

France said Thursday it has been cleared to release more than $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets after appealing to the sanctions committee of U.N. Security Council. The committee has already approved similar appeals by Britain and the United States, releasing a total of more than $3 billion in seized Libyan assets to address urgent humanitarian needs.

Meanwhile, European Union diplomats say they expect a final agreement Thursday on lifting sanctions against several Libyan ports, oil companies and more than a dozen other entities. The move is part of an effort to help the provisional authority resume economic activities frozen under Mr. Gadhafi's rule.

Provisional authorities have set a Saturday deadline for Mr. Gadhafi and his forces to surrender and give up the final areas under their control.

One of Mr. Gadhafi's sons, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, said late Wednesday that loyalist commanders have told him their men would fight to the death and that their morale is high.

His defiant comments contrasted with those of his brother, Saadi, who told al-Arabiya television he is ready to discuss forming a coalition government with anti-Gadhafi forces in order to stop the bloodshed. Saadi claimed he was speaking with his father's blessing.