Int'l meeting on Libya to be held in Paris, Gaddafi's whereabouts still unknown   2011-09-01 10:42:42 FeedbackPrintRSS

PARIS, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- An international conference on the situation in Libya will be held Thursday in Paris, while the whereabouts of embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi remain unknown.

The "Friends of Libya" conference will be co-hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Leaders of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) will also attend.

Senior officials from over 60 countries will discuss political and economic support to Libya after Gaddafi's ouster.

During the conference, the end of the conflict in Libya will reportedly be announced. "An announcement of the end of the war in Libya on Sept. 1 will be a good step to confirm Poland's will to help," said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who will participate in the meeting.

Although the whereabouts of Gaddafi remain unknown, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Wednesday that the embattled Libyan leader has not escaped from Libya and is most probably hiding in the desert.

In a radio interview with Italian state television, Frattini ruled out that Gaddafi had escaped across the border into Algeria together with his family, as reported by several networks, stressing however that his end was drawing near.

"Let's not waste time conjuring fantastic theories of where Gaddafi might be now. We must never forget that Libya is a vast country, a desert country, and I believe he is seeking refuge somewhere in the internal areas," he said.

Frattini also said that an eventual escape from Libya across its borders would not have gone unnoticed, as Gaddafi would have been immediately tracked down by NATO radars and controllers, who were constantly keeping an eye on all suspect movements and people.

The Italian foreign minister said Gaddafi's fate was tied to the fall of his native city Sirte into the hands of the rebels, which he said was "just a matter of days" and would inevitably pave the way towards the end of the conflict in Libya.

"In these recent days NATO has prolonged its military mission to Libya up to September, and it will achieve its ultimate goal when Libya will be totally freed from all regime forces. This is why Sirte stands as the last stronghold of Gaddafi's crumbling reign, and its end will symbolize the end of Gaddafi," he said.

Meanwhile, the Algerian French-language newspaper El Watan said Wednesday in its online edition that Gaddafi was staying in a town on the Libyan-Algerian border, waiting for permission to enter Algeria.

Gaddafi was in Ghadames, an oasis town in west Libya, accompanied by the rest of his family, the newspaper said, quoting sources from the Algerian president's office.

Gaddafi had tried to negotiate with the Algerian authorities on his entry into Algeria, the report said, adding that Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika refused to answer Gaddafi's phone calls.

However, this information cannot be confirmed.

As the conflict in Libya escalated, the rebels urged Gaddafi's loyalists to surrender and hand over Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte. Meanwhile, the United Nations said it has prepared blueprints for post-conflict Libya.

According to reports, Gaddafi's wife Safiya, his daughter Aisha, and sons Hannibal and Mohammed, accompanied by their children, entered Algeria Monday morning through the Algerian-Libyan border, but the whereabouts of the embattled leader remain unknown.

Libyan rebel spokesman Mahmoud Shammam told reporters in Tripoli Tuesday the rebels have already demanded Gaddafi's family members be extradited to face Libyan courts.

Algeria's Foreign Ministry said the United Nations and Libya's NTC had been informed, adding that Algeria allowed the Gaddafis to stay in the country on humanitarian grounds only, Algeria's state-owned radio reported Tuesday.

Special Report: Foreign Military Intervention in Libya

Editor: Chen Zhi
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