World leaders meet on Libya's future
International powers met in London yesterday to map out a future for Libya, vowing to continue military action until leader Muammar Gaddafi stops his "murderous attacks" on civilians.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has not ruled out arming rebel fighters in Libya, the US officials said yesterday, despite assertions by key US allies that such a move would be outside the UN mandate.
"We've not made that decision... but we've not ruled that out," Washington's UN ambassador Susan Rice told ABC television when asked about military support to the fighters battling Gaddafi's forces.
In the conference, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that although the military action was having an effect in protecting civilians, the western city of Misrata was still under attack from the Libyan leader's forces.
"I propose that today's conference should agree to set up a contact group, which will put political effort on a sustained basis into supporting the Libyan people," he said.
"As I speak the people of Misrata are continuing to suffer murderous attacks from the regime," he added.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the allied strikes on Libya would go on until Gaddafi meets the terms of a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire and authorising a no-fly zone to protect civilians.
Britain had invited the main group representing the Libyan opposition to London but not allowing them to participate in the talks, underlining the diplomatic difficulties of planning for a post-Gaddafi era.
Libya's opposition Transitional National Council (TNC) issue a statement yesterday vowing to work for free and fair elections in a "modern, free and united state".
France is the only Western country to have recognised the rebels officially. Qatar followed suit on Monday.
Britain and Spain have refused to rule out the possibility of offering Gaddafi a safe corridor out of the country, amid reports that a possible exile plan could be discussed at the meeting.