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Friday, September 16, 2011

Britain, France to help Gaddafi hunt

 Britain, France to help Gaddafi hunt
David Cameron yesterday pledged British help in hunting down Muammar Gaddafi as he and France's Nicolas Sarkozy became the first foreign leaders to visit the new Libya and forces advancing on the fallen strongman's hometown came under heavy fire.
"We must keep on with the Nato mission until civilians are all protected and until this work is finished," the British prime minister told a joint news conference in Tripoli on a lightning visit.
"We will help you to find Gaddafi and to bring him to justice," he said.
The French president said the toppled despot remained a "danger" and that there was a "job to finish" in eliminating his forces' remaining strongholds.
Sarkozy, accompanied by Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on what Finance Minister Francois Baroin called an "historic" visit, insisted there was "no ulterior motive" in Western assistance to the new Libya.
Cameron and Sarkozy, whose forces spearheaded the Nato air war that helped topple Gaddafi, are immensely popular among ordinary Libyans for their role in ending the fugitive strongman's 42 years of iron-fisted rule.
They met the head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who earlier gave assurances that Tripoli had been sufficiently secured since its capture from Gaddafi forces last month for their visit to go ahead.
Cameron said Nato would continue its UN-mandated air operations until Gaddafi's remaining redoubts around his hometown of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast and in a slew of Saharan oases extending to Libya's southern borders are neutralised.
"We will go on with the Nato mission for as long as is necessary under UN Resolution 1973 to protect civilians," he said.
"And the message I think to Gaddafi and all those still holding arms on his behalf is it is over. Give up. The mercenaries should go home.”
Cameron said Britain would release $950 million in Libyan assets as part of a series of measures aimed at supporting the new authorities in Tripoli.
He also said Britain would release another 12 billion pounds in frozen Gaddafi regime assets as soon as the UN Security Council approved a draft resolution that Britain and France are to put forward on Friday.
The visit came as a large convoy of NTC forces zeroed in on Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte in gruelling heat, confident of overcoming one of the final pockets of resistance.
Fighting erupted after the heavily armed convoy neared houses after driving into the desert town of Wadi Bey, some 130 kilometres southwest of Sirte.

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