World leaders in Paris for “Friends of Libya” summit

Unfreezing assets, extension of surrender ultimatum, oil contracts on the agenda

Leaders from around the world are meeting in Paris for a summit on the situation in Libya. Hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozi, officials from the U.S., China, Russia and Libya’s National Transitional Council will be in attendance. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will also attend. Libya’s rebel leaders are expected to push for the unfreezing of their country’s assets. Reuters reported on Thursday that attending nations will be vying for lucrative oil and gas contracts once the fighting ceases. China, which voted against the UN resolution allowing for a no-fly zone in Libya, is said to be concerned about its economic interests in the area. On Wednesday, the British air force flew US$227 million worth of Libyan banknotes to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, while on Thursday the EU lifted sanctions on 28 assets, including those on oil and port authorities. The rebels have also extended their ultimatum for Gadhafi loyalists in Sirte and other areas to surrender by another week. Originally, they had been given until Saturday. The whereabouts of Col. Moammar Gadhafi remain unknown, while his son, Saif al-Islam, released an audio recording Wednesday pledging to fight until death.



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