NTC leader asks NATO to stay until end of 2011
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Libya's interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil asked NATO at a conference in Doha on Wednesday to continue its military campaign until the end of the year. NATO postponed a meeting to formalise the military phaseout from Wednesday to Friday.
REUTERS - NATO should stay involved in Libya until the end of this year to help prevent loyalists of late strongman Muammar Gaddafi from leaving the country, interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said at a meeting with the military alliance in Qatar on Wednesday.
NATO, whose air strikes backed rebel forces that overthrew Gaddafi in August, is to decide on Friday whether to end its mission following Gaddafi’s death and burial in the past week and a declaration by the National Transitional Council (NTC) that the North African state has been “liberated”.
“We look forward to NATO continuing its operations until the end of the year,” Jalil told reporters, adding that stopping the flight of Gaddafi supporters to other countries was a priority.
“We seek technical and logistics help from neighbouring and friendly countries,” Jalil added.
Qatar was one of the first countries to recognize the NTC as the legitimate authority in Libya and supplied rebels with water, weapons and more than $400 million in aid. Qatar also provided help in marketing and selling Libyan oil.
In Brussels on Wednesday, a NATO official said the alliance had postponed until Friday a meeting of its ambassadors which had been set for Wednesday and was expected to formalise a decision to end its Libya mission.
“The Libya discussion has been moved to Friday to accommodate the ongoing consultations with the United Nations and the National Transitional Council,” the NATO official said.
NATO states took a preliminary decision last Friday to wind up the mission in Libya on Oct. 31 and the commander of the operation said on Tuesday that the alliance believed NTC forces would be capable of handing security threats.
But Libyan interim Oil and Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni said on Tuesday he wanted NATO to maintain its mission for another month.