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World Powers to Discuss Libya’s Future

Foreign ministers and global organisations meet in London as US and UK hold talks with Libyan opposition members.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has met a leading member of the Libyan opposition in London, ahead of a meeting between world powers on the future of the north African nation.

Tuesday’s meeting with Mahmoud Jibril of the Libyan National Council is another sign that the US administration is looking to expand ties with rebel leaders, but an official stressed it did not constitute formal recognition of the opposition.

William Hague, the UK’s foreign minister, also met Jibril, who was invited to Britain for talks but not to the conference in the capital, which Hague is hosting.

Hague said the Libyan transitional council was an “important and legitimate political interlocutor” but that Britain was committed to strengthening ties with a “wide range of members of the Libyan opposition”.

Plans for Gaddafi

Leaders meeting in London are expected to discuss an end game for Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s leader, and the country’s political future.

Franco Frattini, Italy’s foreign minister, said several nations planned to table a joint deal aimed at swiftly ending the conflict, setting out proposals for a ceasefire, exile for Gaddafi and a framework for talks on Libya’s future between tribal leaders and opposition figures.

However Hague said international powers were “not in control” of where Gaddafi might go if he went into exile.

“I’m not going to choose Colonel Gaddafi’s retirement home,” he told BBC radio. “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.”

Frattini has suggested that some African countries could offer Gaddafi “hospitality”, he said on Monday.

Turkey, which has offered to attempt to mediate a permanent ceasefire, has also said the talks would gauge international support for scenarios under which Gaddafi could quit, including whether he could appoint another person in his place.

Gaddafi has called on foreign powers to end their “barbaric offensive” against Libya, in a letter addressed to those meeting on Tuesday.

In it he likened the NATO-led air strikes to military campaigns launched by Adolf Hitler during World War II.

A spokesperson for the British foreign office said it would not dignify the letter with any further comment.

“The world has been clear that Gaddafi has lost all legitimacy. We will judge him on his actions and not his words. His two calls for a ceasefire were a sham,” the spokesperson said.

Khaled Kaim, Libya’s deputy foreign minister, also told a news conference in Tripoli on Monday that foreign leaders had no right to attempt to impose a new political system on the country.

“Libya is an independent country with full sovereignty,” he said.

“The Libyan people are the only ones that have the right decide the country’s future, and planting division of Libya or imposing a foreign political system is not accepted.”

“We call upon Obama and the Western leaders to be peacemakers not warmongers, and not to push Libyans towards a civil war and more death and destruction,” he said.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, has said the international air campaign, which began March 19, has breached the terms of the UN resolution which authorised the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya.

But David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, insisted that the coalition had not gone beyond its remit.

He instead paid tribute to the “skillful and dangerous work” of pilots who destroyed 22 pro-Gaddafi tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy guns over the weekend.

The prime minister said British pilots have so far flown more than 120 sorties and completed more than 250 hours of flights as part of the international action in Libya.

(Source: Al Jazeera)

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