Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Move to Fund Libyan Rebels As France & UK Plot Strategy

Libyan rebels called on the United States today to recommit to the air campaign, only to discover later that American warplanes are indeed flying above Libya, hunting for anti-aircraft weapons to protect NATO aircraft.

Six F-16 fighter jets and five EA-18 Growler electronic warfare planes have flown 97 sorties in Libya since April 4, the Pentagon said.

The disclosure came after the Libya Contact Group convened today in Qatar, urging nations to finance the Libyan rebels. Meanwhile, the leaders of France and Britain huddled in Paris to plot a strategy for defeating an isolated but resilient Moamnmar Gadhafi.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with British Prime Minister David Cameron, along with defense ministers Gerard Longuet of France and Liam Fox of the UK, to try to forge a unified front in getting NATO to step up its attacks on Gadhafi forces and targets.

"Britain and France are at the heart of this coalition, and with President Sarkozy I am going to be sitting down to make sure that we leave no stone unturned in doing everything we can militarily, diplomatically, politically to enforce the UN resolution, to put real pressure on Qaddafi, and to stop the appalling murder of civilians," Cameron told reporters before the meeting.

Earlier, Britain announced it would send 1,000 pieces of surplus body armor to the rebels. The Brtiish had already sent the rebels 100 satellite phones.

In Doha, the contact group called at the onbe-day meeting for Gadhafi to step down and proposed a temporary "trust fund" for the rebels, possibly including funds from Gadhafi's frozen assets.

"Gadhafi and his regime has lost all legitimacy and he must leave power allowing the Libyan people to determine their own future," the group said in a statement.

A thumbnail guide to the players in Doha today from Agence France Press.

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