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New Libya contact group to provide 'political direction'

Leaders from more than 35 governments and NGOs meeting in London have agreed to set up a contact group to provide "political direction" to a post-Muammar Gaddafi Libya in coordination with the UN, African Union, Arab League and EU.

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AFP - World powers agreed in London Tuesday to set up a contact group to lead international efforts to map out Libya's future, with the first meeting to take place in Qatar, Britain said.

"Participants of the conference agreed to establish the Libya Contact Group," said a statement issued by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who chaired the meeting of more than 35 countries plus the UN and NATO.

He added: "Qatar has agreed to convene the first meeting of the group as soon as possible."

The group would provide "leadership and overall political direction to the international effort in close coordination with the UN (United Nations), AU (African Union), Arab League, OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) and EU (European Union) to support Libya", the statement said.

After the first meeting in Qatar, the chairmanship will rotate between the countries of the region and beyond it, the statement said.

The London conference was called to map out Libya's future following the fighting between Kadhafi's forces and rebels opposed to his four-decade rule.

Britain, France and the United States launched military strikes on Libya ten days ago to implement UN Security Council resolution 1973 calling for a ceasefire and no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya.

Hague's statement said those at the London conference "agreed that Kadhafi and his regime have completely lost legitimacy and will be held accountable for their actions."

The representatives, which included those offering military, logistical, financial or humanitarian help in Libya, had agreed to continue their efforts until Kadhafi met the UN's demands, it added.

"UNSCR 1973 laid out very clear conditions that must be met, including the establishment of an immediate ceasefire, a halt to all attacks on civilians and full humanitarian access to those in need," it said.

"Participants agreed to continue their efforts until all conditions are fulfilled. The Libyan regime will be judged by its actions and not its words."

The participants backed NATO's decision to take command of all the military operations, it said.

It added that participants were committed to the "sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya", amid allegations from Tripoli that western powers were trying to divide the country.

 

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