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News, May 2011
Libyan Revolution Council Leaders in London, Paris, and Washington for Aid and Recognition
May 14, 2011
Rebel leader meets with President Sarkozy in Paris
By News Wires (text)
France 24, May 14, 2011
A senior leader of Libya's Revolution Council, Mahmud Jibril, arrived Saturday in Paris where he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the conflict and prospects for transition.
Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon welcomed Jibril on the steps of the Elysee Palace, the president's official residence.
The French leader last met with Jibril, the prime minister of the rebels' National Transitional Council, in early March.
France is one of the few outside powers, along with Italy, Qatar and Gambia, to have formally recognised the Council as the Libyan people's legitimate representative.
France has been taking part along with other international forces under NATO command in airstrikes on Colonel Moamer Kadhafi's strategic sites.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called on forces to step up military intervention in Libya in an interview published Saturday by Arabic daily Al-Hayat.
Jibril held his first talks at the White House on Friday, meeting with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. But White House spokesman Jay Carney made clear that US recognition would not be immediately forthcoming.
Sarkozy has called for a gathering of international "friends of Libya" to discuss its future.
Rebels fail to get full diplomatic recognition from White House
France 24, May 14, 2011
By News Wires (text)
Following a meeting with the National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon Friday, the US said it will not be giving the National Transitional Council full diplomatic recognition for now even though it views it as the “legitimate” voice of the Libyan people.
The United States on Friday stopped short of granting Libyan rebels full diplomatic recognition, as Mahmud Jibril became the opposition's first senior official to have talks at the White House.
There was no immediate sign of new US financial help for the cash-strapped rebels but officials did praise the National Transitional Council (NTC) as a "legitimate" voice for Libyans, as they battle Moamer Kadhafi's regime.
The White House also said it was working with Congress on changes to the law to allow a portion of around $30 billion in Kadhafi regime assets blocked in the United States to be funneled towards the opposition.
Jibril, the second-ranked political leader of the forces trying to topple Kadhafi's more than 40-year rule, met National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.
But there was no mention of any meeting with President Barack Obama, despite some speculation that the US leader might informally drop by the talks.
"During the meeting, Mr Donilon stated that the United States views the (NTC) as a legitimate and credible interlocutor of the Libyan people," the White House said in a statement.
"In contrast, Mr Donilon stressed that Qadhafi has lost his legitimacy to rule and reiterated President Obama's call for Kadhafi to leave immediately.
"Mr Donilon and Dr. Jibril discussed how the United States and the coalition can provide additional support to the (NTC). Mr Donilon applauded the (NTC's) commitment to an inclusive political transition and a democratic future for Libya."
Jibril had set the stage for his White House appearance by warning that the opposition NTC was running badly short of money and needed diplomatic recognition as Libya's rightful rulers.
"We ask the United States to join France, Gambia, Italy and Qatar in recognizing the council as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people until free elections can be held," he wrote in the New York Times.
"This signal would further isolate the Qadhafi regime in Tripoli, heighten opposition morale and improve access to diplomatic and humanitarian assistance."
But the White House, which has said it is up to Libyans and not the outside world to choose their leaders, made clear that full diplomatic recognition would not be forthcoming from the Obama administration, at least for now.
"I don't anticipate action like that," spokesman Jay Carney said.
The talks came on a day when NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen was at the White House for closed-door discussions with Obama, as the alliance keeps up the assault on Qadhafi's forces in Libya.
The White House said the talks centered on the Libyan operation and also the alliance's role in Afghanistan, and the eventual transition of security responsibility to Afghan control.
"They agreed the (Libya) operation had saved countless lives and that as long as the Qadhafi regime continues to attack its own population, NATO will maintain its operations to protect civilians," the White House said.
Reporters were not allowed into the Oval Office talks, but Rasmussen later made several short statements on Twitter.
"Time is up for the Qadhafi regime. Time for the Libyan people to shape a new future, a future free from fear," he said.
He also said that NATO was fulfilling its UN-mandated mission in Libya, had had saved "numerous lives" and had stopped the Kadhafi regime's bid to retake the country by force after widespread uprisings.
Jibril's visit took place amid an international back-and-forth over the fate of Kadhafi, after the Libyan strongman declared he was in a place where NATO bombs could not reach him.
Earlier, the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini had suggested Qadhafi may be on the run and wounded. Washington said it had no information to confirm that Qadhafi had been hurt.
The rebel movement is becoming increasingly well-known in the capitals of nations policing a NATO-led no-fly zone over Libya and leading air strikes against Qadhafi's forces.
British Prime Minister David Cameron met NTC leader Abdul Jalil on Thursday and invited Libya's rebels to open an office in London, their first in a foreign country.
Libyan TV carries audio of Gaddafi taunting NATO
By Joseph Logan
TRIPOLI | Sat May 14, 2011 12:08pm EDT
TRIPOLI (Reuters) -
Libyan state television carried brief audio tape remarks it said were by Muammar Gaddafi in which he taunted NATO as a cowardly crusader whose bombs could not kill him.
The comments were aired on Friday after Italy's foreign minister said Gaddafi had probably left the Libyan capital and been wounded by NATO air strikes. Libyan officials dismissed the Italian minister's remarks.
"I tell the cowardly crusader (NATO) that I live in a place they cannot reach and where you cannot kill me," said the man on the audio tape, whose voice sounded like Gaddafi's.
"Even if you kill the body you will not be able to kill the soul that lives in the hearts of millions," he said.
NATO struck Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyah compound in Tripoli on Thursday but government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said he was unharmed, in good spirits and in Tripoli.
NATO allies including the United States, Britain and France are bombing Libya as part of a U.N. mandate to protect civilians. They say they will not stop until the downfall of the Libyan leader, who took power in a coup 41 years ago.
A NATO air strike on the eastern Libyan city of Brega on Friday that the Libyan government said killed 11 people and wounded 45, was directed against a "command and control bunker," the alliance said in a statement in Brussels.
Libyan state television showed funerals for those killed in Brega being held in the capital on Saturday.
"We are aware of allegations of civilian casualties in connection to this strike and although we cannot independently confirm the validity of the claim, we regret any loss of life by innocent civilians when they occur," said NATO.
It said the building struck had been clearly identified as a command-and-control center.
Explosions rocked the capital of the North African country overnight, a Reuters witness said.
Rebels have mounted a three-month-old uprising against Gaddafi's rule and control Benghazi and the oil-producing east of Libya. Thousands of people have been killed in the fighting.
Rebel leaders met senior officials at the White House on Friday in a boost to their bid for international legitimacy.
PORT CITY BATTLES
The war has reached a virtual stalemate and fighting of late has focused on the port city of Misrata in the west. Rebels seized Misrata airport this week in a significant breakthrough.
Rebels took more territory on the edge of Misrata, said a witness called Ghassan reached by telephone on Saturday.
"The revolutionaries (rebels) are in full control of al Dafiniya, the western entrance to Misrata," said Ghassan.
"On the eastern edge, the rebels are in control of Tammina, an area situated some 25 km east of Misrata and they are trying to advance further east," he said, citing rebels.
Rebels also seized some parts of Zawiyah, a town 54 km (34 miles) west of Tripoli, the opposition newspaper Brnieq reported on its website on Saturday.
Rebels in the city center pushed government forces to the outskirts and now control several main streets, it said, quoting a rebel spokesman in Zawiyah. The government recaptured Zawiyah on March 14 and has been in control since.
There was no independent confirmation for either report.
Tripoli says the rebels are criminals and supporters of al Qaeda, and calls NATO strikes acts of colonial aggression.
Libya was considering withdrawing from a global campaign against Islamic militants, state news agency JANA said on Friday in what appeared to be a veiled threat to Western powers.
(Reporting by Souhail Karam in Rabat, Steve Holland in Washington, Tracy Rucinski in Madrid, Sami Aboudi in Cairo, Joseph Nasr in Berlin and David Brunnstrom in Brussels; Writing by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Peter Graff)
UNITED STATES Libyan rebel delegation set for first official US visit
UNITED KINGDOM UK invites Libyan rebels to open London office
UNITED KINGDOM UK invites Libyan rebels to open London office
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