Skip to main content

'Friends of Libya' converge on Paris

By the CNN Wire Staff
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departed late Wednesday for the high-level meeting.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departed late Wednesday for the high-level meeting.
  • Representatives of some 60 countries, 10 world groups are to discuss plans for democracy
  • "The needs are enormous, A to Z," says senior State Department official
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to attend

Washington (CNN) -- Representatives of some 60 countries and 10 international organizations will converge Thursday in Paris to discuss how they can speed Libya's transition to democracy.

"We've been talking all along about the importance of ultimately establishing democratic, inclusive, legitimate government in Libya," a senior State Department official told reporters in Washington on Wednesday about the meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya. "That was a sort of longer-term objective until now, and now it's before us. And that's what we need to focus on in the present."

The international organizations will include representatives of the United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League, NATO, the European Union and the rebels' National Transitional Council.

Also attending will be Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, Libya's neighbor and the country to which longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's wife and three of his children fled Monday. Passage was allowed on "humanitarian grounds," Algeria's representative to the United Nations in New York said Monday.

'Bad time to be a black man in Libya'
Gadhafi town falls to rebels
Sadistic brutality in Libya

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departed late Wednesday for the high-level meeting that is intended to pay tribute to the Libyans for casting off -- with the help of NATO warplanes -- the rule of Gadhafi and help the North African nation prepare for the transition.

She is to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at Elysee Palace, where the meeting is to be held, and with National Transitional Council Chairman Mustafa Abdul-Jalil and Libya's Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril before departing late Thursday for the return trip to Washington.

"We want to hear from them what their needs are in the area of humanitarian assistance and in the area of financial support," the senior State Department official said. Already, the United States has unfrozen $1.5 billion and Britain has unfrozen $1.5 billion in Libyan assets.

"The needs are enormous, A to Z," another senior State Department official said, citing the "shattered country" left to the Libyans by Gadhafi.

Though Libya may need some bridge loans in the early going, the oil-rich country is likely to need more technical assistance than financial aid over the longer haul, a third State Department official said. The United Nations is well placed to coordinate such requests, "but the Libyans will definitely be in the driver's seat," the official said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland termed the contact group "the Friends of Libya" meeting.

Part of complete coverage on
Hope and weapons lessons
CNN's Ben Wedeman offers a rare view of fighters, proud to be Libyan, new to warfare yet willing to fight
Gadhafi heard loud and clear
Moammar Gadhafi no longer has his Tripoli compound or his power apparatus. He is a fallen leader and a fugitive
A glimpse into the Gadhafi family
The Gadhafi family -- a large, at times quarrelsome clan that helped the embattled strongman hold onto power
CIA, Gadhafi spy ties revealed
Seized documents revealed a close relationship between the CIA and counterparts in the Gadhafi regime
Gadhafi nurse on life with 'Daddy'
Oksana Balinskaya served as one of Gadhafi's five Ukrainian nurses for nearly two years
Libya's other wealth
Archaeological treasures can be found all over the country, and UNESCO is worried
Ex-jihadist at heart of revolution
Abdul Hakeem Belhaj, who once fought with al Qaeda, is now commander of anti-Gadhafi forces in Tripoli
Real challenge may lie ahead
Former CIA director Michael Hayden says building a stable new regime could be as difficult as ousting Gadhafi