Libya Contact Group meeting to focus on common stance: experts   2011-07-13 18:48:55 FeedbackPrintRSS

by Suraj Sharma

ISTANBUL, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Forging a common stance on how to best assist the Libyan rebels hasten the departure of leader Muammar Gaddafi is likely to be the main objective when the Libya Contact Group meets here on Friday, according to experts.

"The most important item on the agenda most likely will be to develop a common stance to help the Libyan rebels financially, militarily and otherwise," said Mesut Ozcan from the international relations department of the Istanbul Commerce University on Wednesday.

"Turkey's recently reviewed position on Libya will allow it to propose to the U.S. and the French in particular that a common policy be sought among all players," he added.

Huseyin Bagci from the international relations department at the Middle East Technical University, told Xinhua "Turkey will look to use this meeting to play the role of mediator and get widespread recognition for the Libyan opposition."

"Turkey in recent times has taken steps that are precisely in line with that of the European Union and the United States," said Bagci.

While Turkey played a supporting role in NATO's military campaign right from the start, Ankara maintained its diplomatic representation in the Libyan capital of Tripoli until last week.

Last week saw a dramatic visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and the end of its representation in Tripoli.

Turkey also froze the assets of a Libyan bank in line with United Nations resolutions.

These moves drew praise from the U.S. administration in particular and the Turkish government will look to push for a common stance that does not involve external military intervention on the ground, an action that Turkey has firmly objected to throughout.

"While Turkey will not endorse or provide troops for any illegal military action on the ground it might send troops to help in the reconstruction effort like it has done in other parts of the world," said Bagci.

The meeting will look at how to best utilize the frozen Libyan assets to help the rebels while remaining within the UN mandate, said Ozcan.

Turkey knows its relations with Gaddafi will never return to normal even if he manages to cling on to power, said Bagci, adding, "that is why the Turkish foreign minister has stepped up his efforts to get Arab states and organizations to recognize the rebels as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people."

The Libya Contact Group was established at the London Conference on March 29 to provide political guidance for the endeavors of the international community with a view to resolving the crisis in Libya.

Participation from around 40 countries and international organizations is expected.

The U.S. Secretary of State, NATO secretary general, as well as the heads of the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Gulf Cooperation Council have confirmed their attendance, Turkish officials said.

Turkey has also invited China and Russia to attend the meeting.

International donors to Libya's National Transitional Council will discuss a variety of options to send funds to cash-strapped rebels in the North African country during the meeting in Istanbul on Friday.

The Libya Contact Group has previously convened in Qatar, Italy and the United Arab Emirates, respectively.

Special Report: Foreign Military Intervention in Libya

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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