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'Friends of Libya' are meeting in Paris

Published on , , Sofia

Global political elite is gathering in Paris for the international conference 'Friends of Libya'. The event, which will be held tonight at the Elysee Palace, will be hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Both leaders were those who initiated the NATO-led military campaign in Libya and pushed for the adoption of a UN resolution to legalise the operation. The forum coincides with the 42nd anniversary of the military coup in which Colonel Gaddafi seized power in Tripoli and symbolises the end of his reign.

It is curious that Russia and China will also take part in the conference, although they have opposed the NATO-led intervention in Libya. Moscow has officially recognised the authority of the National Transitional Council. China will send only a deputy minister to the forum, as a sign of its reticent attitude. It is expected the conference to be attended by delegations from 60 countries, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as major international organisations - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, representatives of the African Union, the Arab League and NATO.

The European Union will be represented institutionally by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. Most European heads of state or government will also arrive in Paris, including Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

At the forum Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) will report on the situation on the ground in terms of security, reconstruction and the economy, BBC reported. The most urgent need is to restore fuel supply, electricity and water in many cities, along with food and payment of workers. Hours before the Paris conference, the EU has unfrozen the financial assets and economic resources of 28 Libyan entities, which have been frozen under the sanctions on Gaddafi's regime in February.The UN has already started unblocking funds in favour of the new Libyan government. According to the BBC, 140 million pounds (280 million Libyan dinars) were transported yesterday by the British Air Forces to Libya as a first tranche of a total of nearly one billion pounds to be handed over to the Libyan Central Bank. France announced it would release 1.5 billion euros of Libyan assets to the NTC. The forum is also expected to discuss further needs of financing for Libya's transition, as well as a potential UN-led peacekeeping mission.

As euinside wrote, the first major European companies have already returned to Libya. Not that certain look the opportunities of Russia and China to resume their business presence in the country but Moscow has already signalled goodwill in recognising the new government. The European Union, however, should benefit from its leading role in overthrowing Gaddafi because "Europeans have shown for the first time that they are capable of intervention in a decisive way, with their allies, in an open conflict on their doorstep," President Nicolas Sarkozy told French ambassadors who gathered in Paris on the eve of the conference. The EU will in the future play a bigger role vis-a-vis the US in providing hard security in North Africa and the Middle East, Sarkozy said, quoted by EUobserver.

euinside will follow the forum in Paris and will inform you in the coming days.

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