US imperialism and its allies are bombing North Africa everyday in an effort to destroy the oil-producing state of Libya., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Rome meeting seeks to plan Libya's transition from stalemate
ROME/TRIPOLI, May 4 (Xinhua) -- The Italian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the second meeting of the "Contact Group" on Libya, due to take place Thursday in Rome, will focus on post-war issues in Libya, where ceasefire is still a luxury for the warring parties.
The Rome meeting, which will be co-chaired by Italy and Qatar, will draw foreign ministers and secretaries from the United States, Britain, France and Italy, plus officials from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and observers from the Arab League.
The meeting will begin developing a political transition plan to be implemented after the departure or ousting of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, according to Italian officials.
Also on the agenda are the coalition intervention force's military strategy in Libya and ways in which some of Libya's massive reserves of crude oil can be brought back to world oil markets. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has already said Italy will oppose the use of NATO ground forces.
On Tuesday, Italy said it would press its Western partners to set a deadline for the NATO-led airstrikes in Libya, amid a stalemate in the fight between the rebels and government forces on the ground as well as doubts about further Western action.
Italy "will try, together with international organizations like NATO and with its allies, to set a deadline," Frattini said, adding Thursday's talks would set "a roadmap for a ceasefire and for a constitutional assembly of Libyan reconciliation."
Earlier on Tuesday, UN special envoy on Libya Abdelilah Al-Khatib said both sides of the Libyan conflict acknowledged the need for a cease-fire, but brokering such an outcome depended on getting the sides to agree on the nature of the political process that would follow.
"The main difficulty at this stage is getting all sides to agree on the essential elements of a political process that meets the aspirations of the Libyan people," Al-Khatib said in a briefing to the Security Council on his recent missions to the North African country.
However, both sides had attached other conditions to a cease-fire, he said.
The envoy said the Libyan government required NATO attacks to stop before holding "discussions about elections, democracy, and constitutional reform."
"The way out of this impasse is to determine a specific date and time for a cease-fire under the supervision of impartial monitors, at which time the indiscriminate bombings against the military and civilians must simultaneously stop," Al-Khatib said.
But the rebels' Transitional National Council "on the other hand, has indicated to me that a cease-fire was not sufficient to end the conflict in Libya if it is not directly linked to the departure of Colonel Gaddafi and his family," the UN envoy said.
"They have made it clear that their position is that no negotiations will take place with either Colonel Gaddafi or his family," he said.
A Libyan government deadline for Libyan rebels defending the besieged northwestern city of Misrata to lay down their arms expired at midnight Tuesday.
The rebels there rejected the offer of amnesty in exchange for their surrender, insisting on fighting to oust Gaddafi who has ruled Libya for more than 40 years.
But, according to Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim, about 400 people had already turned in their arms in the western port city, which has been sieged by government forces for almost two months.
However, his claim could not be verified from the opposition side.
Referring to the deadline, Kaim said: "I hope that the minister of justice will listen to our call to extend it at least for another day or two, because there are good signs among people there in Misrata."
Since March 19, Western-led coalition forces have been undertaking air and naval strikes on Gaddafi's forces after the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizing "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya.