New Libya replaces Gaddafi's tent at UN
AFP, Tuesday 20 Sep 2011
National Transitional Council (NTC) to take big step onto the international stage in New York this week


For decades Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was an outlandish fixture at the UN General Assembly with his tent and rambling speeches, but this year those who ousted him will hold the spotlight.

The United States and its allies, who backed Libyan revolutionaries in their bid to end Gaddafi's iron-fisted rule, will meet on Tuesday on the sidelines of the annual meeting to discuss a post-Gaddafi future for the country.

Tuesday's meeting will come after the first talks between US President Barack Obama and Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of Libya's National Transitional Council, now widely recognized as the North African nation's government.

The talks will "confirm the start of a new phase which began with the Paris summit and the beginning of an increased role in the United Nations," said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Monday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was hailed as a hero when he visited Tripoli last week, will also join Tuesday's talks.

One of the aims of the talks will be to replace the Libya contact group with a "group of friends of Libya, whose make-up and function will be determined by the secretary general," Juppe said.

The NTC "will also voice its needs to help the country rebuild, and the international community will reaffirm its support for the new Libya."

"Tomorrow morning, the new Libya will symbolically be fully integrated into the United Nations," Juppe said, as the green, red and black flag used by the old Libyan monarchy was raised Monday for the first time at the United Nations.

Created on March 29 in London, the political ‘Contact Group’ on Libya gathers some 30 countries and several international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO and the Arab League.

It has worked to support the revolt against Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for four decades, including unblocking Gaddafi regime funds which had been frozen by governments around the world.

Two years ago Gaddafi delivered a diatribe against the West when he addressed the UN General Assembly for more than 90 minutes. This year the flamboyant Gaddafi and his son Seif Al-Islam are wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Both men have been on the run since the rebels overran Tripoli on 23 August after launching their uprising in February.

As the Palestinians press their bid for UN membership in the face of adamant US and Israeli opposition, Washington hopes to highlight Libya, where it believes its strategy has been a success.

"We have put a lot of effort into Libya ... the past several weeks to get international support for a post-Gaddafi Libya," Obama's national security advisor Ben Rhodes said on Monday.

"At the meetings tomorrow, I think it is an effort to mark an extraordinary achievement by the UN," he added, briefing reporters on Air Force One as Obama headed to New York.

A UN resolution adopted earlier this year, which authorised the use of force to protect the Libyan opposition, was a "rare and historic moment where all necessary measures were provided to protect civilians," Rhodes added.

Obama was hoping to hear the NTC's "plans for an inclusive transition in Libya" while the talks would also underscore "the critical role the UN is going to play... as Libya moves to a post-Gaddafi government."

There has already been criticism about the slow pace of getting a new government off the ground in Libya. Its creation was put off indefinitely again on Sunday amid disputes over portfolios.

Libya will also figure prominently in separate talks between Obama, Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon meanwhile on Monday named his special envoy to Libya, Ian Martin, as the head of the UN's support mission in the country and the world body's new representative to Tripoli.

Martin has been coordinating the work of UN agencies in Libya with initiatives by the World Bank and "liaised closely" with the transitional authorities there, a UN statement said.



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