Libya's transitional leadership outlines goals at Paris conference
US Secy of State Hillary Clinton meets with French Pres. Nicholas Sarkosy at Elysee Palace photo by: AFP/Getty Images
September 1st, 2011
03:21 PM ET

Libya's transitional leadership outlines goals at Paris conference

By CNN Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott

Libya's transitional leadership outlined the country's humanitarian, reconstruction and political needs Thursday to representatives from about 60 countries who gathered in Paris to discuss Libya's moves toward democracy.

A road map for a constitution and democratic elections is expected to come out of the conference, according to diplomats speaking before the meetings, even as forces opposed to Moammar Gadhafi continued to face forces loyal to the ousted leader in several Libyan cities.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with two senior transitional leaders - Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the National Transitional Council's chairman, and Mahmoud Jabril, the council's prime minister - before joining the session at the Elysee Palace.

Addressing the conference, Clinton paid tribute to the achievements of Libya's anti-Gadhafi forces but said much remains to be done to ensure a successful transition.

"Winning a war offers no guarantee of winning the peace that follows. What happens in the coming days will be critical," she said.

"Libya's transformation has been and must continue to be Libyan-led. But the international community has a crucial role to play in supporting the Libyans in bringing about a transition to democracy that is just, inclusive and sustainable."

She stressed the need for NATO's military operations in Libya to continue "as long as civilians remain under threat of attack."

Clinton also said that "the time has arrived to welcome Libya back into the international community," pointing to the fact that nearly 70 countries and the Arab League have recognized the NTC as Libya's legitimate interim rulers.

And she urged the international community to ensure that the NTC has the funds necessary to meet Libyans' needs. The United States and Britain are among countries that have already released assets frozen under U.N. sanctions for the transitional council.

Work must also be done to ensure that the new Libya is created with a spirit of national reconciliation, Clinton said, and that "weapons from Gadhafi's stockpiles do not threaten Libya's neighbors and the world."

The gathering of the International Contact Group on Libya - a coalition of governments and international organizations - is the latest in a series of meetings since the war began in February.

Representatives of the Untied Nations, NATO, the African Union and the Arab League were also in attendance.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the most immediate challenge is humanitarian, highlighting a water shortage in the capital, Tripoli.

The NTC and the international community have agreed that the United Nations should lead a coordinated program in support of the new Libyan government, he said in a statement.

The key to success will be Libyan ownership of the transition efforts, as well as a swift, effective and coordinated response from the international community, Ban said.

He will seek a Security Council mandate for a U.N. mission with "the express aim of beginning operations with minimum delay," he added.

Clinton's meeting with Jalil was her first with him, senior State Department officials told reporters. She also spoke with a delegation from the NTC.

Their talks focused on security and the need to pursue justice and reconciliation in a way that meets international standards, the officials said.

Clinton and the NTC also discussed the need for transparency in tracking money being returned to the Libyan people after the release of frozen assets, the officials said.

The secretary of state also made clear that U.S. officials believe Lockerbie bomber Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi should be behind bars, the officials said.

Al Megrahi is comatose under the care of his family in Tripoli. Scotland's justice minister granted him an early release two years ago after his attorneys and Scottish authorities said he was dying of cancer and had only had three months to live.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, announced Thursday that economic sanctions had been lifted on 28 Libyan entities, particularly those involving ports and the energy and banking sectors.

The council has estimated it needs 5 billion euros ($7.1 billion) to address emergency needs.

Britain started delivery of money Wednesday, flying the equivalent of more than $227 million to a bank in Benghazi to be used for medicine and food and to pay government employees, the foreign secretary said in a statement.

France plans to release the equivalent of $2.1 billion, blocked at the start of the war, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told Radio RTL on Thursday. Italy and Spain said Wednesday they were lifting blocks on Libyan assets.

Meanwhile, Russia is recognizing the transitional council as Libya's governing authority, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday in a statement.

Russia has been a critic of the NATO bombing campaign that began in March after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution for the use of force, with the exception of a ground invasion, to protect civilians. Russia, a member of the Security Council, abstained from the vote.

Among those attending the meeting in Paris was Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, who said Thursday that Gadhafi is not in his country.

CNN's Matthew Chance, Jonathan Wald and Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.


Filed under: Arab Spring • Diplomacy • Gadhafi • Libya • Secretary of State • United Nations
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