Libya: UK, France leaders to hold talks with NTC

2011-09-15 11:22

Tripoli - British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Tripoli on Thursday on the first visit by foreign leaders to the new Libya.

The two men, whose forces spearheaded the Nato air war that helped topple Muammar Gaddafi, are immensely popular among ordinary Libyans for their role in ending the fugitive strongman's 42 years of iron-fisted rule.

They were to hold talks with the head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who earlier gave assurances that Tripoli had been sufficiently secured since its capture from Gaddafi forces last month for the visit to go ahead.

"We say to the leaders coming tomorrow [Thursday] that they will be safe," he told the BBC the night before.

AFP correspondents in the capital reported a massive security operation on Thursday with roadblocks along the road in from Metiga airport on the eastern outskirts and a luxury hotel in the city centre cordoned off by security forces backed up by French officers.

Sarkozy was accompanied by Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on what Finance Minister Francois Baroin described as an "historic" visit, an AFP correspondent travelling with them said.

A statement from Cameron's office said that he was accompanied by Foreign Secretary William Hague.

"He is expected to announce a further package of UK assistance to support the Libyan-led process of transition to a free, democratic and inclusive Libya," Downing Street said.

Heavy weapons

The British and French leaders were expected to spend no more than a few hours in Tripoli before heading on to Libya's second largest city Benghazi, which served as the rebels' base during their seven-month uprising against Gaddafi.

As well as meeting NTC officials, they were expected to visit a hospital and hold a news conference.

In Benghazi, Sarkozy aides said he would address the crowd in Tahrir Square, the emblematic focal point of the uprising.

The visit by the two European leaders came as NTC forces are still battling Gaddafi loyalists in a swathe of territory from his hometown of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast through a string of Saharan oases towards the southern border.

A huge convoy of pickups mounted with heavy weapons massed on the coast west of Sirte early on Wednesday in readiness for what commanders said would be a pincer movement against the city, an AFP correspondent reported.

Half of the column massed at Tawurgha, south of Libya's third-largest city Misrata, would advance straight along the coast road, commanders said.

The other half would strike south into the desert towards the town of Waddan in the Al-Jufra oasis in a bid to cut Sirte off from Gaddafi’s other principal bastion, the south's largest city Sabha, they added.

Abdel Jalil appealed in the BBC interview for new weapons deliveries to help capture Gaddafi’s last remaining bastions and complete his country's liberation.

He said that many of Gaddafi’sd remaining forces had now massed in the far south and that the NTC needed more arms to defeat them.

"They have cut off electricity and water as well as supply routes and are preventing food and medicines from coming in, thereby violating all international norms."

Ibrahim, who did not say where he was, said Gaddafi was in "perfect health" and that his morale was up but did not indicate the fugitive strongman's whereabouts.

Gaddafi had earlier appealed from his hideout for the international community to help his hometown of Sirte.

"It is the duty of the world not to leave [Sirte] alone, and everyone must assume their international duty and immediately come to stop this crime," Gaddafi said in a message broadcast on Arrai.

Ibrahim said the battle for Sirte was "near", and added: "We are ready for war, even if it lasts for years."

  • sushi - 2011-09-15 11:40

    damm western opportunists!mustafa you sold lybia

      Philip Darne - 2011-09-15 12:00

      Yes, and Africa always wants a hand out from the very same countries they always run down!!

  • Gillie - 2011-09-15 12:14

    First in line for the oil I guess... bloody opportunists !!!!

  • Gore - 2011-09-15 12:20

    And as always African are left behind - still deciding what to do even after yesterday's meeting held by Zuma!! And if the oil etc is stolen who can blame them, African leaders always sleep at the wheel!!!

  • Moron - 2011-09-15 12:20

    Where is AgriSA...join the talks bloody blood suckers

  • Anton - 2011-09-15 12:41

    It sad to see, that there are still those, who prefer to take the side of a rotten murderers corrupt family, than the people of Libya. Fortunately very few, if any, Libyans will read these pro gaddafi comments. They would be insulted, disgusted and sickened!!!!!

      marco - 2011-09-15 13:23

      @Anton They not pro Gaddafi mate,they PRO LIBYA and that's the difference.We,if I may speak freely,don't give a **** about Gaddafi,he can ****ing rot in hell for all I care. It's the blood-sucking parasites from NATO that nobody can stand or take.One moment they,NATO,propped up the "old" Gaddafi regime with cheap deals called "the business momentum" worth billions of DOLLARS and the next minute a full on direct military intervention on the same FART called Gaddafi.It's the same greedy and powerful Western interests that people writting in on this forum can't stand or take.A two-faced,twisted freakshow called NATO that,like Gaddafi,should themselves burn in HELL.Underhanded and sordid DEALS you and most other civilize people know nothing about and gets masqueraded as we NATO cares for Libya. IT'S GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LIBYAN PEOPLE ON THE STREETS GET THAT RIGHT FIRST.That's what you should be "insulted, disgusted and sickened" about.

      Anton - 2011-09-15 13:57

      Marco, That's kul, we both have simular thoughts about gaddafi, and yes, for me he can stay in that hole, he is hiding, forever!! Than , if I may, let's change the name of Nato to "the West" Nato is the military arm of the West, and does not do politics. It follows the orders of Western governments. We can even exclude the USA, they have little, if no interest in Libya, not for its oil, and neither does Libya have any stragetic importance to them. Not yesterday,today,nor tomorrow!! So than we are left with Europe, and mainly western Europe. and surprise surprise, here we have another common factor; I also agree with you that they are two faced, and were all to happy to deal with this corrupt gaddafi family , for years. And yes, I also know, it takes two to tango!! Europe has in the past,and still does today, has had cozy relationships with many dictators. They have taken the easy road, it is so much easier to deal with a dictatorship than with a democracy. Much better to deal with ONE family for 30 years, and just look after them with a hundred million dollars here and a hundred million dollars there, than to have to deal every few years with different people!!!! But, where you and me seem to differ is; I am pretty confinced that by far the majority of Libyans are very happy, to see these gaddafi guys gone. And when these cowards are eventually captured, and can't be a further threat to the Libyan population, it is doubtful you will find many pro gaddafi Libyans!!!!!

      marco - 2011-09-15 15:33

      @Anton Wow wow wow!!! "We can even exclude the USA,they have little,if no interest in Libya,not for its oil, and neither does Libya have any stragetic importance" You so far off the beaten track with these words it's pretty shocking.Stragetic importance my a**. America's reasons and interests in Libya are these and will always be so...from The Washington Post come this:A US-Libya Business Association was formed in 2005 to promote closer business ties between the United States and Libya(Gaddafi)—urging Washington to send an ambassador to Libya,to build an embassy in Tripoli,and finally restore full-fledged diplomatic relations after 25 years of mutual suspicion and distrust. Then what did Americans do next?Worried that they were missing out to European competition,a group of powerful US companies(including BP,Chevron,ConocoPhillips,Dow Chemical,ExxonMobil,Fluor,Halliburton,Hess Corporation,Marathon Oil,Midrex Technologies,Motorola,Northrop Grumman,Occidental Petroleum,Raytheon, Shell and United Gulf Construction Company)all went into Gaddafi's Libya. And what else did the Amerians do?Arch neocon Richard Perle,a former Reagan-era US Defense Department official and George W. Bush era chair of the US Defense Policy Board,and 8 U.S. executives traveled to Libya in 2007 as a paid adviser to the Monitor Group,a prestigious Boston-based consulting firm with close ties to leading professors at the Harvard Business School.Said "they had a fantastically warm reception saw

      marco - 2011-09-15 15:36

      the minister of foreign affairs,the minister of planning,the head of the National Planning Council,head of the Housing and Infrastructure Commission.They were happy to see us back and very positive.Remarkably,there’s no sense of anti-Americanism." And then what?Subsequently several major US oil companies,including ConocoPhillips,Marathon Oil and Hess Corp have since had significant stakes in the Libyan oil industry,according to a factsheet prepared by Reuters on February 23,2011. And please don't tell me it's not oil again or that CHINA,INDIA,BRAZIL has the contracts.Gaddafi only threatened to hand over contracts to India,China and Brazil—after NATO attacked him.America for a time now have had the bulk of the drilling contracts in Libya and has the best expertise to exploit these reserves.Gaddafi had been demanding bigger up-front payments from Western countries for drilling rights and greater profit-sharing.This offers further proof that the West wages wars not for humanitarian or freedom-spreading purposes,but rather to exploit the resources of other nations for its own large corporations.

      Anton - 2011-09-15 16:31

      Marco, As your comment is soo long and covers many aspects, please allow me to only respond to a part of it. Drilling for oil is a very complicated and costly business, and there are only a handful of companies around the world, capable of doing so. That American companies haver drilling contracts, does not mean that Libyan oil goes to America. At the beginning of this conflict, the than US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, said that the US should stay right out of it, as Libya had no strategic importance to the USA. I believe, if it had an interest, this conflict would have been over long ago.........!! One of the largest oil companies in the world is Shell, an Anglo Dutch company, but very little of the oil drilled by them , ends up in Holland or England. But interestingly , when China recently recognized the TNC, it asked them to protect their "interests" in Libya. China has invested billions in Libya. There are 75 Chinese companies operating in Libya, involving 36000 staff, and 50 projects, building roads, buildings and infrastructure. And although China last year only purchased 10% of Libya"s oil output, at the beginning of this conflict, it was one of the first foreign governments to visit Benghazi, to secure their oil supply. As China is the largest purchaser of oil in the world, and with continuosly more need for oil, if offered, China would probably purchase the lot.

  • marco - 2011-09-15 12:49

    19th century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston famously once wrote:"We have no eternal allies,and we have no perpetual enemies.Our interests are eternal and perpetual". AFP News Agency reports: 10.42am:Cameron is due to outline plans to send a military experts to Libya,according to the BBC. 10.52am: Cameron and Sarkozy have arrived at the Corinthia hotel in Tripoli.Live footage from the hotel also showed Libya's interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril.Cameron and Sarkozy,are due to hold talks with Jibril and Mustafa Abdul Jalil the chairman of the National Transitional Council.For what? • deploy a UK military team to advise the NTC on security • return Libyan assets totalling £500m ($790m) to the interim authorities as soon as possible • make 50 places available in UK specialist hospitals for critically ill Libyans • provide £600,000 for de-mining efforts in Libya and £60,000 to pay for a police communications system, Anything new here?NO!They almost did exactly the same thing for Gaddafi before this.Associated Press reports that the same greedy and powerful Western interests that first attacked and then propped up the Gaddafi regime are preparing for a change of tack,here goes:"Companies such as AMEC,an engineering firm,and Biwater,a waste treatment company,have supplied services to Libya,which is using its oil revenues to reshape the country through an infrastructure spending spree that will cost about £310bn over the next decade.British exports to Libya have

  • marco - 2011-09-15 12:49

    soared to about £930m in recent years.While the business momentum in post-sanctions Libya 2004,is so great that the economy managed to grow by about 5% in 2010,while much of the rest of the world struggled. About 150 British companies have established a presence in Libya since the US and Europe lifted economic sanctions in 2004,after the country renounced terrorism,ceased its nuclear weapons programme and handed over two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case.The most high profile have been the oil companies,keen to tap Libya’s vast reserves of fossil fuels. In a deal brokered in 2007 by Tony Blair,BP signed a £560m exploration agreement allowing it to search for oil and gas,offshore and onshore,in a joint venture with the Libya Investment Corporation.Shell is also exploring for oil in Libya as western companies seek to capitalise on a country with the largest oil reserves in Africa and substantial supplies of gas. High street retailers such as Marks & Spencer,Next,Monsoon and Accessorize have also set up in the country to serve the growing middle-class population,as oil revenues have 'trickled down' into the broader Libyan population. The European Union’s annual report on arms exports revealed Libya’s biggest military suppliers in Europe,reported Deutsche Presse-Agentur.European oil companies back in business,with banks,airlines and hotel chains all to follow soon. The new Libyan NTC will HOPEFULLY heed the lessons of its own history this time round or maybe it won't.

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