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Rome meeting on Libya boosts efforts to exit crisis

05-06-2011 09:58 BJT Special Report:Int'l Intervention in Libya |

ROME, May 5 (Xinhua) -- The second contact group meeting on Libya brought diplomats in Rome on Thursday to enhance efforts to find a solution to the Libyan crisis, but different voices have also been heard.

(L to R) Qatar's Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim bin Jaber Al-Thani, Italian Foreign
Minister Franco Frattini and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan
attend a press conference after the closing of the Second Contact Group meeting on Libya in
Rome, capital of Italy, on May 5, 2011. (Xinhua/Wang Qingqin)

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini hailed the outcome of the summit. "Today we have made an important step forward and the results of this meeting are very positive," he said at a press conference.

According to the conclusion of the meeting, three decisions were taken. First, the need to boost military, political and economic pressure against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi so as to further isolate him both on the global and national stage by luring away his supporters.

The second was the institution of a special fund, defined as the Temporary Financial Mechanism (TFM), aimed at guaranteeing "a transparent channel" of resources to the rebels' Transitional National Council (TNC) to financially sustain the ongoing conflict. Kuwait has already allocated some 180 million U.S. dollars, and the fund is open to all donors.

The contact group also stressed the importance of launching a "political process" as soon as a ceasefire is reached in order to prepare the ground for a transition.

The ultimate goal of the Libyan crisis-handling was to support "an inclusive national dialogue that leads to the country's reconciliation and reconstruction," said Frattini, who praised the TNC's incorporation of 17 other political and social groups as a first important step towards transition.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini addresses a press conference after the closing of
the Second Contact Group meeting on Libya in Rome, capital of Italy, on May 5, 2011.
(Xinhua/Wang Qingqin)

The participants expressed their support to the 'Road Map for Libya' presented by the TNC which envisages a popular referendum and then a gradual organization of local elections to be supervised by UN observers and held across the country when peace is reached.

The central message coming from the summit was that all military action must be acccompanied by a political and humanitarian framework as well.

Prior to the meeting the United States and Italy stressed their shared commitments in solving the Libyan crisis for the benefit of the Libyan people, while African Union (AU) chief Jean Ping expressed concerns over the conflict's impacts in the African region.

The contact group also called for the unfreezing of Libyan assets by the UN and the European Union (EU) to put at disposal of the Libyan people's needs.

Talking on the sidelines of the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen ruled out that NATO might supply the rebels with weapons, observing that the UN resolution's unique objective was to defend civilians even through a tightened arm embargo on Libya.

"We are not in Libya to distribute weapons to one side or the other," said Rasmussen.

The secretary general however stressed that the NATO Unified Protector mission in Libya would continue until three military goals were reached: end of attacks on civilians, withdrawal of Gaddafi's troops and the implementation of a humanitarian corridor.

Co-chaired by Italy and Qatar, the second contact group meeting on Libya was attended by representatives of a number of international organizations, including the EU, the UN, NATO and the Arab League, and 22 foreign ministers of countries involved in tackling the Libyan crisis. Among the observers were the AU and the World Bank.

The first meeting of the Libya contact group took place in Doha on April 13, while the following one is scheduled next month in Abu Dhabi.

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