London: Top diplomats met on Tuesday in London
to plot out an endgame for Moammar Gaddafi`s tottering regime
and to strike a deal with the Libyan opposition over plans for
the country`s future.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, US Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Arab League and up to 40
foreign ministers were joining the talks, seeking to ratchet
up the pressure on Gaddafi to quit.
Italy`s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said several
nations are behind a proposal to swiftly end the conflict,
setting out plans for a cease-fire, exile for Gaddafi and a
framework for talks on Libya`s future between tribal leaders
and opposition figures.
Britain and the United States signaled ahead of the
summit that they could accept a plan under which Gaddafi
quickly leaves Libya and in return escapes a war crimes trial,
despite a previous insistence that he must face the
International Criminal Court.
"Of course where he goes, if he goes, is up to him and
the people of Libya to determine and we will not necessarily
be in control of that," Britain`s Foreign Secretary William
Hague said ahead of the summit.
Frattini said several African counties could offer
Gaddafi a haven. "I hope that the African Union can come up
with a valid proposal," he said.
But international allies are "not going to choose Col.
Gaddafi`s retirement home," Hague said.
African Union chairman Jean Ping was not attending the
talks as had been expected. "We already had our own meeting
last Friday and agreed on a way forward there," said El
Ghassim Wane, director of the AU Peace and Security Council.
However, delegates did include Qatar`s emir Sheik Hamad bin
Khalifa Al-Thani and dozens of foreign ministers from across
Europe and the Middle East.
Turkey, which has offered to mediate a permanent
cease-fire, said the talks would gauge international support
for scenarios under which Gaddafi could retreat into exile.
Hague and Clinton met early Tuesday with Libyan opposition
envoy Mahmoud Jibril who was holding talks in London and
scheduled to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron, but
was not attending the main conference.
"We discussed the current political and humanitarian
situation in Libya. We agreed on the absolute importance of
protecting and safeguarding civilians in Libya," Hague said
following his talks with Jibril.