Fox: “Could take some time” for rebels to take Tripoli

Defence secretary Liam Fox told Parliament today that the coalition powers are turning their minds to a post-conflict solution in Libya, reports Shamik Das.

Defence secretary Liam Fox told Parliament today that the coalition powers are turning their minds to a post-conflict solution in Libya, even though the end of the conflict could still be some time away. At the weekend, rebel forces said they were holding off from a full-on assault on Tripoli for fear of civilian casualties. The forces are 60 miles from the capital, waiting for an uprising inside the city before launching their attack.

Mr Fox told the House during Defence Questions this afternoon:

“It is too early to speculate what might be required [in a post-conflict Libya] and who might be involved… We are working towards a solution with the contact group and others.

“NATO and others will plan for all eventualities; hopefully soon we’ll see the back of Gaddafi.”

When asked whether a further UN resolution would be needed, Mr Fox said:

“It will depend on the situation on the ground and how benign the situation is. There is no need at present for a second resolution. We hope to have an orderly handover to the UN and a new Libyan authority.”

And on the prospects for an endgame soon, and an end to Gaddafi’s rule, the defence secretary said it was unlikely “in the near future”, adding:

“The regime could collapse shortly, however it could take some time [for opposition forces to enter Tripoli].”

He later said:

“We will continue these operations until Gaddafi stops attacking the libyan people.”

The defence secretary earlier confirmed to the House the news that a British soldier has gone missing in Helmand province, insisting:

“The United Kingdom and ISAF are taking all necessary and appropriate action.”

On the ground in Libya, meanwhile, Agence France-Presse reports:

Libyan rebels on Sunday rejected an African Union peace plan, saying it would leave Moamer Kadhafi in power, as South Africa’s president headed for talks in Russia on the conflict.

Dismissing the AU plan as not meeting even their basic demands, rebel spokesman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga said bluntly: “We have rejected it… It did not include the departure of Kadhafi, his sons and his inner circle. We have repeated this (demand) on more than one occasion.”

The rejection came after the rebel army said it was poised for an offensive that could put it within striking distance of Tripoli, after French arms drops and intensified NATO air strikes on the regime’s frontline armour.

While on the diplomatic front, Turkey has become the 17th country to recognise the rebels; the Tripoli Post reports:

Turkey has become the latest country to recognise Libya’s rebel leaders and the National Transitional Council, NTC, as the true representative of Libya’s people and the country’s legitimate representatives, promising them them an additional $200 million in aid.

A visit Sunday by Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu marked Turkey’s strongest show of support yet for the opposition forces trying to oust Libyan leader Muammar Al Qathafi from power.He said it was time for Muammar Al Qathafi to go…

Following Turkey’s official recognition of the NTC 17 countries have so far recognised the Libyan Council as Libya’s sole and legitimate representative since the beginning of the conflict on February 15.

The others are: France (March 10), Qatar (March 28), Maldives (April 3), Italy (April 4), Kuwait (April 4), Gambia (April 22), United Kingdom (May 12), Jordan (May 24), Senegal (May 28), Malta (June 1), Spain (June 8, Australia (June 9), United States (June 9), UAE (June 12), Germany June 13, and Canada (June 14).

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