[Debate] Sarkozy: "We are prepared to continue military operations as long as our Libyan friends need them"
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Wed Aug 24 21:37:18 BST 2011
August 24, 2011
Sarkozy Assures Libyan Rebel Leader
By STEVEN ERLANGER
PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, after meeting with the
prime minister of the Libyan rebel government, promised on Wednesday
that NATO forces would support the rebels so long as Col. Muammar
el-Qaddafi remains a threat and announced an international conference
to help the new Libya would take place in Paris on Sept. 1.
“We are prepared to continue military operations as long as our Libyan
friends need them,”’ Mr. Sarkozy told Mahmoud Jibril, the prime
minister of the Transitional National Council. So long as there are
pockets of resistance we will be at your side.”
Mr. Sarkozy also promised immediate help to provide medical care to
the wounded and logistical aid, including prefabricated buildings, so
that the Libyan school year can start on time.
Mr. Jibril thanked the French president for his support, which began
with the first military sorties over Benghazi in March to drive back
Qaddafi troops and, many think, save the rebellion. "You played a key
role in protecting Libyan civilians from a massacre that seemed
inevitable,” Mr. Jibril said. France was the first country to
recognize the council as the legitimate government of Libya.
But he said the fight was not finished in Libya, with Colonel
Qaddafi’s whereabouts unclear and his supporters continuing attacks in
Tripoli and southern Libya, while continuing to hold important cities
like the colonel’s tribal home, Surt. “The battle is not over on the
ground, and there is another battle that will be ferocious, the
reconstruction of our country,” Mr. Jibril said.
The international conference on Sept. 1, which is expected to include
more than 30 countries, with China, Russia and Brazil also invited,
will be guided by the new Libyan leadership, Mr. Sarkozy said. Mr.
Jibril said that Sept. 1 was especially important for Libyans,
"because it was on Sept. 1 that Qaddafi came to power 40 years ago.”
Mr. Jibril promised an inclusive, just Libya and laid out a procedure
for a new government that would begin with an assembly of Libyans from
all major cities, towns and regions to elect a group to draft a new
constitution and name a transitional government. A draft constitution
will be put to a referendum by Libyans, and new elections overseen by
United Nations observers will take place within four months for a new
parliament and a new government to replace the transitional one, Mr.
Asked if Colonel Qaddafi would face justice before an international
court or in Libya, Mr. Jibril said that the colonel first must be
captured. Only then would the rebel leadership decide where he will be
brought to justice.
Mr. Sarkozy said that he was working with British Prime Minister David
Cameron on a new Security Council resolution to lift international
sanctions against Libya and to unfreeze Libyan assets abroad, so that
the new authorities can use the funds for reconstruction and salaries.
A vote is expected later this week.
Mr. Jibril also thanked Britain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and
Turkey for significant aid to the rebellion.
And he praised Mr. Sarkozy for his steadfastness, pleasant words for a
French president low in the opinion polls and facing a reelection
challenge next year. "When we came her on March 10, 2011, you promised
to support the Libyan and Arab peoples in their fight for freedom and
democracy,” Mr. Jibril told Mr. Sarkozy. "Six months later you’ve
shown you have kept your promise.”
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