Libya Contact Group prepares for third meeting in Abu Dhabi
More than 20 foreign ministers and representatives of international organisations gathered Thursday for the third Libya Contact Group talks in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, DPA reported.
As NATO airstrikes continue to target Moamer Gaddafi's forces, the group is expected to discuss ways to further support the Libyan Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC).
"The council has proven that it is a legitimate representative of the Libyan people, and the group must provide it with the necessary support," UAE's foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said late on Wednesday.
Al-Nahyan will co-chair the Contact Group meeting with Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Abu Dhabi Wednesday night. Also expected to attend are representatives of NATO, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, and the Arab League.
The meeting will discuss measures needed to activate the Temporary Financial Mechanism to fund the ITNC, according to the UAE's state news agency WAM reported. The funding mechanism was established at the group's second meeting in Rome last month.
The group will also examine the possibility of "unfreezing Libyan assets formerly controlled by Moamer Gaddafi and members of his regime in order to be used for the benefit of the Libyan people," WAM reported.
The first Libyan Contact Group meeting, held in April in the Gulf state of Qatar, called on Gaddafi to step down.
But the 69-year-old leader recently reiterated his vow to stay in Libya "until death," despite more than two months of NATO airstrikes targeting his forces.
He has told African Union mediators that he would accept a ceasefire with the rebels, but refuses to relinquish power.
Thousands are feared dead in the conflict, which escalated in February when rebels began fighting Gaddafi's forces for control of the country, after the government used military force against protesters calling for his ouster.