Libyan rebel leader shakes hands with Sarkozy

As clashes between Muammar Gaddafi supporters and rebels see no end, Libyan rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril is meeting French President Sarkozy in Paris to discuss the prospects of a political transition and economic development in a post-Gaddafi era.

The format and place of the meeting are well justified, as it was the French president who spearheaded the West’s military intervention in Libya and was the first foreign leader formally to support the rebels. The executive head of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), Jibril, is often referred to as prime minister of the country.

The two leaders are expected to discuss Libya’s democratic transition. France has expressed its readiness to hold a special “Friends of Libya” conference in Paris in the next 10 days, which could bring together around 30 foreign leaders and international organizations to help ease Libya’s post-war reconstruction.

France also wants to make sure its biggest oil companies are among those hoping for lucrative oil contracts with a new government in Libya.

The meeting comes amid Gaddafi’s pledge to go on fighting to death or victory after rebels forced him to abandon his Tripoli stronghold.

Meanwhile, Associated Press quotes Libyan consul Faraj Zarroug as saying that more than 85 per cent of the 165 Libyan diplomatic missions around the world have acknowledged the opposition as the legitimate authority in the country. More than 30 states have already recognized the Libyan National Transitional Council NTC as the sole legitimate international representative of the Libyan people.

On Wednesday, Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev stressed that Russia has a balanced stance on the situation in Libya and noted it is too early for the opposition to celebrate.

“For the time being, the situation remains just as it was,” Medvedev said following negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, adding: “In fact, there is diarchy in the country. Despite the opposition’s recent success Gaddafi and forces loyal to him still have an influence and a certain military potential.”

However, Medvedev says Russia might establish diplomatic ties with the Libyan rebels if they unite the country. The Russian leader also called for immediate talks to determine the future of Libya.

“We would like both parties to immediately stop the violence and come to the negotiating table,” Medvedev stated.

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