NATO, allies hold 1st contact group meeting on Libya

09:32, April 14, 2011      

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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (C) stands between to Qatar'sCrown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (L) and Qatar's Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jissim Bin Jabr Al Thani, before a start the first international contact group meeting on Libya in Doha April 13, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Foreign diplomats on Wednesday met in Qatar's capital Doha behind closed door to seek a political exit to the crisis in Libya, after an African Union-initiated peace roadmap was denied by the Libyan rebels, who said the only solution to the Libyan turmoil is the departure of leader Muammar Gaddafi.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is present with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as well as envoys from the United States, Arab countries and international organizations.

The Libyan government did not send representatives to the one- day conference.

Qatar's Deputy Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani said the conference aimed at locating a focal point for communication and cooperation between the Libyan people and the international community and to support the Libyan people to find the political resolution that enable them to decide their own destiny.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said participants would continue to maintain pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down.

The conference will also discuss the principle put forward by the Libyan interim Transitional National Council to empower a financial mechanism for the rebels, Hague said.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting that the international community was looking forward to a quick end of war in Libya without dividing the country.

The meeting came nearly a month after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya and called for "all necessary measures," excluding troops on the ground, to protect civilians from attacks.

The Libyan rebels on Monday rejected an African Union-brokered peace deal, saying the initiative fell short of their expectations for Gaddafi to step down.

A Libyan rebel group representative said Wednesday that a delegation from the Libyan interim Transitional National Council will go to Washington later Wednesday to meet some congressional leaders for support.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday that NATO foreign ministers will hold a meeting later this week in Germany, with non-NATO countries including Qatar, UAE, Jordan, Morocco, Sweden and Ukraine being invited.

He said that military action alone won't solve the crisis in Libya but the bloc would not cut back its operations in Libya.

Gas-rich Qatar is the first Arab state to recognize the Libyan interim Transitional National Council.
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