Conference puts support behind Libyan rebels
PARIS – World leaders and delegations from more than 60 nations met Thursday in Paris to build international support for Libya’s transition to democracy after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised the progress made at the gathering, which included Germany, Algeria, Russia and China, countries that did not support NATO airstrikes that were crucial to the anti-Gadhafi insurgency.
Russia recognized the legitimacy of the Libyan rebel leadership earlier in the day.
“We want this to be the beginning of a policy that puts military force at the service of protecting populations who risk being martyred” by their own leaders, Sarkozy said.
France, Britain and the United States were major contributors to the NATO campaign, which was launched under a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing military action to protect civilians. France was the first country to recognize the rebel government.
Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron said participants at the conference supported continued NATO airstrikes against pockets of Gadhafi supporters “for as long as needed to protect civilians.”
The attendees urged the Security Council to quickly free up frozen Libyan assets, estimated at $110 billion, which are essential to restore water, food and medical care and to help Libya form a democracy. Libya’s oil wealth is expected to pay much of the bill.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the gathering that 860,000 people had left Libya since the fighting began in February. A humanitarian mission will be deployed to Libya soon, he said.
Los Angeles Times