From 'contact group' to 'friends of Libya'



From `contact group` to `friends of Libya` Tripoli: The international contact group on Libya is due to gather in Paris on Thursday, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposing to turn it into a gathering of the "Friends of Libya."

The informal group comprises 28 countries and seven international organisations in all, although the number of states sending envoys to the Paris meeting is expected to top 50.

Leading state actors include the United States, Britain France and Qatar, a prominent supporter of the rebels among the Arab states.

Also represented in Paris will be the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the United Nations -- expected to be represented by its secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon -- and the Arab League.

Libya will be represented at the talks by the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC).

Although not members of the contact group, China, Russia and India have been invited to the Paris meeting.

Participants are notably expected to discuss funding for the war-shattered country, and also practical steps such as police training and diplomatic recognition for its future administration.

Following its founding in London on March 29, the contact group held meetings in the Qatari capital Doha on April 13, in Rome on May 5, in Abu Dhabi on June 9 and in Istanbul on July 15.

Many of its efforts have been devoted to unblocking funds formerly held by the regime of the overthrown leader Muammar Gaddafi in order to hand them over to the north African country's new leaders.

Bureau Report