Clinton in Libya talks ahead of conference opening
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London Tuesday ahead of an international conference aimed at working out the next steps in the conflict, the government said, dpa reported.
Clinton is among some 35 foreign ministers represented at the conference, where the United Nations, NATO, and the Arab League are also present.
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague held talks with Mahmoud Jibril, the special envoy for Libya's Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC), based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
Jibril, a former Libyan foreign envoy, would not be an official participant in the conference, organizers said. Hague said a UN envoy would travel to Libya straight after the London conference.
The one-day meeting, which comes after 10 days of allied airstrikes on Libya, is aimed primarily at demonstrating a "maximum of political and diplomatic unity," according to its British hosts.
However, it will also look at the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people and attempt to launch a political transition process for the "post-Gaddafi era," according to Britain.
US President Barack Obama warned late Monday that the ultimate aim in Libya could not be regime change. "We went down that road in Iraq ... that is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya," he said.
Participants said the conference will come under pressure to discuss proposals to offer Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi "a way out" of the current crisis by allowing him "safe passage" to a third country.
Hague insisted Tuesday, however, that he would prefer to see the Libyan leader appear at the International Criminal Court.
"I am not going to choose Colonel Gaddafi's retirement home," Hague said in a BBC interview.
As the allied airstrikes on Libya continued Tuesday, reports about civilian deaths threatened to overshadow the conference.
In addition to Clinton, the high-level participants include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as well as top level representatives of the Arab League and the African Union.
Ahead of the summit, Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Gaddafi's supporters to abandon him "before it is too late."