Libya conflict: Cameron and Sarkozy visit Tripoli

 

The leaders of Britain and France got a rapturous reception in Libya

British PM David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are in Libya, the most senior Western leaders to visit since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted.

Their countries were at the forefront of Nato's Libyan operation.

They met National Transitional Council (NTC) leaders in Tripoli, and are to fly to Benghazi to speak in the former rebel stronghold's Liberty Square.

NTC chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil thanked the two leaders for taking "brave positions" during the Libyan uprising.

"They showed us political, economic and military support which helped the rebels establish a state, and we thank France and the UK for that," he told a Tripoli news conference.

On Wednesday, Mr Abdul Jalil had appealed for weapons to help the NTC take the few areas of Libya still loyal to Col Gaddafi, telling the BBC the fugitive leader was in the country's south, plotting his revenge.

Responding to Mr Jalil's welcome, the British and French leaders praised the bravery of the Libyan people, and pledged continued support for the NTC's goal of creating a peaceful and democratic state.

"The fact that roads are full of traffic, your water is flowing, your hospitals are working, this is impressive," said Mr Cameron.

"But... Gaddafi is still at large. We must keep on with the Nato mission until civilians are all protected and this work is finished.

"We will help you find Gaddafi and bring him to justice, and we will help you take dangerous weapons such as mines and surface-to-air missiles out of Libya."

Mr Sarkozy urged Libyans to avoid "vengeance and retaliation", calling on them to preserve unity and seek reconciliation.

He said France's focus was on consolidating the position of the NTC and pursuing the last remnants of the Gaddafi regime, rather than focusing on economic deals or reconstruction contracts.

Easing sanctions

Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy arrived in Libya earlier on Thursday and flew by helicopter to a hospital where they were greeted by crowds of cheering staff and patients.

Analysis

Britain and France have been spearheading the ongoing Nato campaign over Libya, so it is no surprise that David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy are the first western leaders to visit since anti-Gaddafi forces took control of the capital Tripoli last month.

Although it is only going to last a few hours, the visit is a further sign of the widening international support for Libya's interim authorities.

The NTC is still struggling to consolidate their position, and have not yet moved their government from the former rebel stronghold of Benghazi to the capital.

The NTC has appealed for more international help to flush fighters loyal to the ousted leader from the few remaining parts of the country where they are putting up fierce resistance.

The two leaders are hugely popular in Libya, where common graffiti slogans include: "Merci Sarkozy!" and "Thank you Britain!"

Their visit had been under consideration for several weeks, correspondents say. Initially the plan had been to wait until security had improved across Libya, but the trip was brought forward to show support for the NTC after its arrival in Tripoli at the weekend.

Mr Cameron, who is accompanied by UK Foreign Minister William Hague, was set to announce that Britain is to:

  • deploy a UK military team to advise the NTC on security
  • return Libyan assets totalling £600m ($948m) 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 and £60,000 to pay for a police communications system

The UK on Wednesday circulated a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that would ease UN sanctions against Libya. Many UN countries - including all five permanent members of the Security Council - have recognised the NTC as Libya's legitimate authority. But the African Union, which met on Wednesday evening, has yet to do so.

Mr Sarkozy is reportedly travelling with 160 security officers, mostly from the specialist CRS riot squad.

'All the gold'

Nato has been carrying out air strikes under a mandate from two UN resolutions to protect Libyan civilians.

The US on Wednesday said it was encouraged by the increasing control the NTC was exercising over security forces in the country.

Saadi Gaddafi, 2011

A written message attributed to Col Gaddafi, meanwhile, appealed to the UN to stop "crimes" against his birthplace, Sirte.

His whereabouts are unknown, although he has previously said he would rather die than flee Libya.

On Wednesday, a message purporting to have been written by Col Gaddafi - and read out by a presenter on a pro-Gaddafi Syrian TV channel - called on the UN to "bear your international responsibility and intervene immediately to stop this crime".

As well as Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, Gaddafi loyalists still control parts of Bani Walid, south-east of the capital, and Jufra, while Mr Jalil said many pro-Gaddafi forces had fled to Sabha in the southern desert.

"There will be fierce battles in Sabha with equipment that we do not yet have, and we ask for more equipment to retake these places," he told the BBC on Wednesday.

He added that Col Gaddafi had possession of "all the gold" and would be planning attacks on cities, oil-fields and power plants.

NTC officials say members of the former leader's inner circle took gold and cash with them when they fled south across the border to Niger last week.

Mr Jalil confirmed that the NTC would not move the whole of its administration to Tripoli until the last pockets of pro-Gaddafi resistance had been captured.

At least 36 members of the fugitive leader's inner circle, including relatives and generals, have fled to neighbouring Algeria and Niger since Tripoli fell to NTC forces last month.

With roads to Tunisia, Egypt, Chad and Sudan largely controlled by anti-Gaddafi forces, Niger has been used as an exit route by Gaddafi loyalists - including his son Saadi.

Anti-Gaddafi fighters say they have captured the northern half of Bani Walid but have struggled to push further.

Map of pro-Gaddafi towns
 

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 155.

    you know when you're dealing with someone whose opinion isn't worth considering

    "I think the socialists on here were rather we were bogged down as in Afghanistan or Iraq. They hate success"

    they have an "us and them" attitude. you're not a particular group of people; but you do tend to associate with fellow weaker willed individuals.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 154.

    142. Rufus McDufus
    "You mean you'd prefer we were poorer and had more unemployed but feeling morally superior? Nice."

    when you say we, do you mean the upper income bracket, or do you mean everyone?

    and why would we have more unemployed if we stopped solely serving ourselves? i'm refering to those with access to the most finances, and the apathy with regards to inequity.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 153.

    Libya is quite a political positive for UK.

    Uk history is steeped in attrociousness, yet we have turned around our helping Gadaffi to helping to remove him.

    Brits are not liked in much of the world, nations have long memorys, which does not help our need for resources to keep the HYS moaners lifes ticking over & allow them to snipe at what maintains their miserable existance.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 152.

    144.The_Squirrel
    Being a dictator must be very confusing! One minute you're the darling of the West, next it's imposing sanctions on you, then it's your friend again but you know it'll never be the same as the first time round, and finally it's ousting you from power and putting the new guy in your place!
    -
    Makes you wonder who are the real dictators & who are the puppets.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 151.

    145Rufus McDufus
    123Nim
    I can't believe the cynicism by some commenting, for once we actually helped out a people who asked for it
    -
    I think the socialists on here were rather we were bogged down as in Afghanistan or Iraq They hate success
    -
    Au contraire, Afganistan & Iraq were hailed as successes, much like Libya is being now. Some of us just don't buy the BS spin, whether socialist or not

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 150.

    125.CNHedley
    as you asked , it came from the former Czechoslovakia now Czech Republic and like a lot of the weapons we sold to Gaddaffi it was a legitmate sale at the time, used amongst other things for demolition as well as military.
    I hope the libyans succeed in having a peaceful society that means they are all at least as well off as they were before excepting the Colonel.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 149.

    North Briton, Please remember we supported the rebels. They are the good guys! Seriously. Cameron was quite sure of that. Any talk of al qaeda influences was just a big lie by the evil former regime.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 148.

    Definition of a UN resolution: A generic document that is a framework for countries to interpret as they wish. EG a no fly zone is easily turned into a regime changing campaign. To do this it is not necessary to go back for further resolutions or indeed ask member states public for approval. Its all very fair and clear.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 147.

    I am still not sure how we knew the rebels are/will be better than Gaddafi. Gaddafi may not have been a nice man but the UK has been obviously doing business with him for years. What changed? How do we know which faction of the rebels will come out on top? In what way will they be better? This little escapade has cost the UK a great deal but who have we helped and why?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 146.

    Cameron to Jalil

    "Don't forget the German's refused to help you when you start signing contracts, in fact my mate Hague here has a few for you to sign now please or else we pull our planes out, keep your cash and all the gold our special forces have already secured, have a nice day though"

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 145.

    "123.
    Nim

    I can't believe the cynicism by some commenting, for once we actually helped out a people who asked for it, from being butchered by a ruthless dictator and all you can say is how much it cost."


    I think the socialists on here were rather we were bogged down as in Afghanistan or Iraq. They hate success.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 144.

    Being a dictator must be very confusing! One minute you're the darling of the West, next it's imposing sanctions on you, then it's your friend again but you know it'll never be the same as the first time round, and finally it's ousting you from power and putting the new guy in your place!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 143.

    "38.
    JulieSam

    26.wilpot
    They are there for the reason they got involved in the first place - to cash in on all that high grade oil.

    I expect we'll be invading the Falklands again soon then, they found more oil out there.... "


    Not sure I can see the point of invading one of our own territories.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 142.

    "133.
    MEATJUSTICE

    124.Rufus McDufus "I can't see the problem with acting in our own interests."

    well maybe you can see the net result in the form of UK unemployment stats"


    You mean you'd prefer we were poorer and had more unemployed but feeling morally superior? Nice.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 141.

    140. Verity
    2 MINUTES AGO
    newlibyan - post 74
    I wish you the very best for the future too. You know what you have been through to get to this point. I hope the world wishes the best for you.
    ----
    I too wish you all the best and hope you get the modern, democratic government that you all deserve....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 140.

    newlibyan - post 74
    I wish you the very best for the future too. You know what you have been through to get to this point. I hope the world wishes the best for you.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 139.

    Cameron makes me want to vomit. Anything for a photo shoot.
    Best wishes to the people of Libya and I hope they get the country that they hoped for.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 138.

    Editors pick comment 74 'newlibyan'; fair play to you, I am sure someone from the Conservative Party PR department could not have put it better ;)

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 137.

    Syria, Iran, North Korea, China....and take your pick from the former USSR countries.....all smash the opposition and kill civilians. Come on Cameron, Libya was fairly liberal compared to some of them. Get the aircraft carriers ready. You set your stall out. Surely you have not stopped at a half won Libya!

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 136.

    It`s sickening to see Cameron strutting around Libya as though he single-handedly saved a nation while back at home the nation he`s supposed to be saving is disintigrating. And they wonder why the poll commisioned by Commitee in Standards on Public Life shows a steep drop in confidence in MPs by the public. Heaven help this country because MPs won`t.

 

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