Sarkozy pledges more help after Jibril meeting

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The Independent Online

France promised yesterday to keep providing military support for the Libyan rebels who are fighting to topple Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke with reporters after meeting with Mahmoud Jibril, the head of Libya's opposition government. The rebels claim they have most of the capital of Tripoli under their control, but fighting continues.

"We are inclined to continue military operations... as long as our Libyan friends need it," Mr Sarkozy said. France was the first country to recognise Mr Jibril's government and has been a key supporter of the Nato airstrike campaign against Colonel Gaddafi's forces.

Mr Jibril expressed his gratitude to France for its support but acknowledged the fighting wasn't yet finished and that a new Libyan government would need lots of support from the West. "The combat isn't finished... there are still many pockets and traces of the old regime," he said. "Then there will be another battle that will be ferocious – the battle for reconstruction." The UN Security Council is expected to vote this week on a resolution to release billions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets so the country's opposition can establish their leadership and pay for vital medical and humanitarian supplies. Mr Jibril asked for help in getting the freeze lifted.

Mr Sarkozy and David Cameron have also proposed a conference in Paris to discuss how the international community can help smooth Libya's transition. The two leaders invited the Libyan opposition and international partners to the 1 September meeting.