Clinton meets Libya opposition

Hillary Clinton -US Secretary of State

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has held a meeting with a senior Libyan opposition figure to discuss how the uprising against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi can be further supported.

The closed-door meeting with rebel member Mahmoud Jibril took place in a hotel in Paris after G8 members met to discuss whether a no-fly zone should be considered.

Mr Jibril is an official in the newly formed Interim Governing Council based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Speaking in Westminster on Monday British Prime Minister David Cameron said that time was of the essence in responding to the situation in Libya, and that Nato was drawing up contingency plans for a no-fly zone.

“Every day Gaddafi is brutalising his own people,” he said.

“Time is of the essence. There should be no letup in the pressure we put on this regime.”

There were also fresh discussions at the United Nations about how to end the increasingly brutal repression of rebel forces by Col Gaddafi’s regime.

A new draft UN Security Council resolution including a no-fly zone is being drawn up by the UK and France and could be submitted as soon as today or tomorrow.

In Washington, President Barack Obama repeated his demand that Col Gaddafi step down from his 42-year rule.

Libya’s anti-government protesters have appealed for international help as the dictator’s loyalists continue their bloody battle to claim rebel-held areas in the east.

No comments have been made about Ms Clinton and Mr Jibril’s talks but they may have been a deciding factor in America’s approach to the situation.

Mr Obama’s administration has so far refrained from intervening in the crisis, despite calls from some Congress members that the rebels should be supported with air cover and weapons.

The President and his national security aides fear intervention could further stretch the US military and be seen as meddling.

In recent days the rebels have been forced back towards the eastern city of Benghazi as first Ras Lanuf and then Brega were reported to have fallen under the superior firepower of the regime’s forces.

The town of Ajdabiyah, about 90 miles south of Benghazi, has been hit by heavy artillery and air strikes as Colonel Gaddafi’s troops continued the sweep east.

General Abdel Fatah Yunis, who resigned as the interior minister soon after the uprising began in mid-February, told reporters in Benghazi that Ajdabiya was “a vital city”.

“It’s on the route to the east, to Benghazi and to Tobruk and also to the south. Ajdabiya’s defence is very important. We will defend it,” he said.
Source: Sky News

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