World leaders gather for "Friends of Libya" conference in Paris
World leaders were descending on Paris Thursday morning for a key summit on Libya's post-war future, to be hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, DPA reported.
Delegations from around 60 countries and international organizations are expected at the Friends of Libya conference, where Libya's interim government will outline its needs for help in rebuilding the country and implementing the transition from dictatorship to democracy.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the talks, as will representatives from Russia and China, which, like Germany, had opposed the military intervention that helped rebels rout Moamer Gaddafi's regime.
One of the goals of the summit is to further legitimize the rebel-led Transitional National Council as an interim government.
Hours before the meeting began Russia announced it would recognize the TNC, joining the dozens of countries that have already done so.
The summit comes amid conflicting signals from Gaddafi's camp about whether he intends to press on with the fight in the few remaining pockets of regime control.
His son Saif al-Islam, in an audio message on Syria-based al-Rai television Wednesday, vowed a fight to the death while another son Saadi was quoted by al-Arabiya television as offering to negotiate with the TNC.
The TNC has given Gaddafi loyalists until Saturday to surrender or face a major onslaught.
Gaddafi's own whereabouts remain unknown.
In Paris, the TNC will press for the release of billions of dollars in overseas assets that were frozen under a UN resolution in March.
The United States and Britain have each gained permission from the UN to release about 1.5 billion dollars in assets and Libyan currency.
France has asked permission to release 1.5 billion euros in assets, while Germany is looking at up to 1 billion euros.
The TNC is also expected to outline a timetable for Libya's democratic transition, request aid to build democratic institutions and seek help to restore water and electricity to several cities, including Tripoli.