Govts. ready to support Libyan opposition

July 15, 2011 at 3:00 AM
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ISTANBUL, Turkey, July 15 (UPI) -- The Obama administration is preparing to reinforce Libya's rebel government as 40 nations review Turkey's plan to create a post-Gadhafi Libya, officials said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and colleagues from other NATO and NATO-supporting countries meet in Istanbul, Turkey, Friday with the intention of enhancing relations with Libya's National Transitional Council, pending review and endorsement of its plans for an inclusive, transparent Libyan democracy, officials said.

The council -- which declared itself March 5 to be the "sole representative of all Libya" and formed an interim government March 23 -- has said it would outline its democracy plans at the meeting of the co-called Contact Group of nations supporting NATO's Libya operation.

The United States does not recognize the council as Libya's sole representative, but does recognize it only as the sole legitimate negotiator of Libya's future.

Turkey will also outline plans it proposes to end the Libyan crisis, officials said.

"The main aim is to find a political solution to accelerate efforts to end the bloodshed," said a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman quoted by Britain's The Guardian newspaper.

Turkey's plan, to be presented by Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, is said to call for an immediate cease-fire, U.N. monitoring, and a withdrawal of forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi from all besieged cities -- along with "fast and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid," The Guardian said.

The plan will insist on Gadhafi's departure, but does not spell out how that should happen or whether he would have to be accompanied by his sons, as National Transitional Council leaders insist, the newspaper said.

NATO governments have said privately they would not fight a deal that lets Gadhafi flee to a country that does not support the International Criminal Court, which seek his arrest for alleged crimes against humanity, The Guardian said.

Belarus, Zimbabwe and Sudan have been mentioned as possible exile countries.

Davutoglu is reported to want to find a solution to the conflict before Ramadan starts Aug. 1. NATO has said it will not suspend military operations because of the Muslim holy month.

Many Muslims believe Ramadan is an auspicious month for God's revelations because it is when the first Koran verses are said to have been revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

Contact Group participants, including several Arab states, were expected to be told at the meeting that Libya's armed forces were being worn down, that Gadhafi had suffered significant defections and was running short of cash, and that U.N. sanctions were choking fuel supplies, generating greater domestic opposition.

Libya's state TV has been almost forced off air because foreign satellite broadcasters, complying with U.N. sanctions, have stopped providing their services, The Guardian said.

Contact Group participants were also expected announce new financial support for the Transitional National Council after the United Arab Emirates pledged more than $1.3 billion.

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