World powers launch meeting on Libya

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International powers began a key meeting on Libya's future in London Tuesday with a warning from British Prime Minister David Cameron that the city of Misrata is still facing "murderous attacks".

More than 35 countries, including seven Arab states plus the heads of the United Nations and NATO, met as Moamer Kadhafi urged Western nations to end their "barbaric" offensive against his country.

"I propose that today's conference should agree to set up a contact group, which will put political effort on a sustained basis into supporting the Libyan people," Cameron said as he opened the conference.

"As I speak the people of Misrata are continuing to suffer murderous attacks from the regime," he added.

"I have had reports this morning that the city is under attack from both land and sea. Kadhafi is using snipers to shoot them (the people of Misrata) down and let them bleed to death in the street."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said meanwhile that the allied strikes on Libya would go on until Kadhafi meets UN terms.

Ten days of Western air strikes on Kadhafi's forces authorised by a UN resolution have transformed the opposition campaign, allowing rebels to push westwards, although they were halted near the key city of Sirte on Tuesday and Kadhafi's forces swept through Misrata in the west.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said he would lead efforts to coordinate the international effort to map out Libya's future.

"The transition to a democratic government and society will take time and the support of us all. The United Nations is ready and willing to help the people of Libya in this transition," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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