Spain urges Libyan rebels to prepare for 'new political era'
Spain's prime minister Friday urged Libyan rebel leader Mahmud Jibril to strengthen his organisation to be ready for "the new political era" that Libya would face if Moamer Kadhafi is defeated.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero told Jibril that Spain supports the rebels' National Transitional Council "as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people," his office said in a statement following talks between the two in Madrid.
Zapatero "encouraged him to strengthen his organisation and his operations so it is in a position to successfully address the new political era that Libya will have to confront.
"The internal reconciliation process and the process of constructing a new, stable, prosperous, sovereign and democratic society will be one of the key tasks of the future," Zapatero told him.
Jibril is the diplomatic chief of the National Transitional Council (NTC), a political body created by the rebels.
Libya has been wracked by a civil war since a violent uprising against Kadhafi, in power for more than four decades, swept the country five months ago.
Spain is taking part in a NATO-coordinated operation against Kadhafi's military assets and has formally recognised the NTC.
While the NATO bombing campaign has managed to prevent the fall of opposition-held cities such as Benghazi and Mistrata, it has not been able to dislodge Kadhafi's regime.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in Madrid Wednesday that Kadhafi could remain in Libya so long as he completely gave up power, as part of a larger political deal, including a ceasefire, on the future of the country.
But Jibril said on Thursday that is up to Libyans to decide if Kadhafi can remain in the country if he gives up power.
He also reaffirmed that the international community should give the NTC access to frozen Libyan funds or let them be used as collateral for bank loans.
Zapatero told Jibril that Spain considers humanitarian aid to Libya to be a priority, noting that Madrid is the fourth largest contributor to the country in this regard.
The two also discussed the military situation in Libya, "the diplomatic prospects in light of various initiatives that have been launched and, finally, the internal situation of NTC and the territory it administers."
© 2011 AFP