World Powers Meeting to Discuss Libya’s Future

Posted September 1st, 2011 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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Diplomats and political leaders from around the world are in France Thursday to discuss Libya's future after Moammar Gadhafi.

Officials from 60 countries are taking part in the conference in Paris. Before the meeting got under way, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told journalists that Libya's National Transitional Council has begun the process of creating a “democratic” and “inclusive” country.

Officials expect NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil to outline an 18-month process leading to a new constitution and elections.

Meanwhile, Libya's provisional authorities have given Gadhafi loyalists in his hometown of Sirte an additional week to surrender. The NTC had originally set a Saturday deadline and said it would resort to military action if the deadline was not met. NTC officials said Thursday that there was progress in negotiations with hold-outs in Sirte.

Arabic television stations, however, quoted Mr. Gadhafi as saying his forces will not surrender and vowed a long fight. His comments were in a written message released on Thursday.

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

China and Russia both have representatives at the talks, although they have criticized NATO's military campaign in Libya over the past few months. Russia announced that it is recognizing the NTC as Libya's legitimate authority.

Algeria said separately it will recognize the provisional authority when the NTC follows through on promises to form an inclusive government.

Also Thursday, the European Union announced it was lifting sanctions on 28 Libyan entities, including ports, banks and energy companies. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the goal of removing the assets freeze was to provide resources to Libya's interim government and people.

France said it will release more than $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets, an action cleared by the sanctions committee of the U.N. Security Council.

The committee has already approved the release by Britain and the United States of more than $3 billion in seized Libyan assets, to address urgent humanitarian needs.