Cameron, Sarkozy plan Libya visit Thursday: sources

14th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are planning to visit Libya Thursday in a trip that would be the first by foreign leaders since rebels ousted Moamer Kadhafi, sources said.

France and Britain spearheaded the NATO air war against Kadhafi's forces that helped the rebels slowly fight their way towards Tripoli and install the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the new government there.

The plans for the trip were confirmed by sources close to the NTC in Tripoli but no details were provided.

Cameron and Sarkozy will be accompanied by Bernard-Henri Levy, the French philosopher who championed Libya's revolution and helped convince Sarkozy to back the rebels, several sources said in Paris.

The trio were expected to meet with NTC leaders in Tripoli, while press reports said they may also travel to Benghazi, the eastern city where the uprising kicked off in February.

French police sources said that 160 officers had been told to get ready for a Wednesday night flight to Libya in order to secure a number of places in Tripoli ahead of the visit.

The officers were told that they would be returning to France on Friday, the sources said.

Both Cameron's and Sarkozy's office declined to comment when asked about the trip. Sarkozy said during a major international conference on Libya in early September that he would travel to Tripoli once the NTC was installed there.

The reported trip comes as Kadhafi's forces continued to mount attacks against NTC fighters in a few areas, including the oasis town of Bani Walid, one of the deposed strongman's last bastions of support, southeast of Tripoli.

Kadhafi, wanted for alleged crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, remains in hiding but many of his inner circle and a son have fled to neighbouring Niger.

Kadhafi appealed on Wednesday for the international community to help his hometown of Sirte, encircled by forces loyal to Libya's new government, in an audio message aired on a Syria-based television channel.

Fighters loyal to the NTC said pro-Kadhafi forces had formed a crescent-shaped chain of tanks around Sirte to prevent civilians from fleeing and to parry any assault on the city.

They said Kadhafi's propaganda was aimed at persuading Sirte's population to believe that the forces of the new leadership were all Islamists and terrorists.

NATO stresses that Kadhafi is not a target in the daily bombing campaign it has kept up against his remaining forces, which still control a swathe of the coast around Sirte as well as a string of Saharan oases.

Diplomats in New York said Wednesday that Britain hopes that a vote will be held within three days on a United Nations Security Council resolution it has drafted setting up a UN mission in Libya.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article