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In London talks, world leaders to clarify roles in Libya

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that one of the goals of the London meeting is to begin planning for a post-Qaddafi political future in Libya.

By Nissa RheeCorrespondent / March 29, 2011

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague meets with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on Tuesday, March 29, ahead of the meeting of international allies to discuss the next steps for Libya.

Dominic Lipinski/AP

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Leaders of the international coalition responsible for the no-fly zone in Libya will gather in London today to discuss the next steps for the UN-authorized military intervention. The meeting, which comes more than a week after international airstrikes began and a couple days after NATO took command of military action, seeks to clarify the role of the coalition forces in the escalating conflict between rebels and pro-Qaddafi forces that began seven weeks ago.

The objectives of the coalition have so far been murky. World leaders have rejected accusations from Qaddafi that they are seeking regime change, saying their mandate is no protect civilians. But the vigorous air campaign has enabled rebels to rapidly regain territory that they had lost to Qaddafi's forces.

RELATED: Libya timeline (updated daily)

According to The Telegraph, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said that one of the goals of the meeting is to begin planning for a post-Qaddafi political future in Libya. Although the goal of the international intervention is not regime change, they do hope Qaddafi will step down, he said.

The Associated Press reports that the White House also has clear objectives for the London meeting.

In the British capital, world powers will address some of the questions that have been raised since the international strikes against Gadhafi began, from possible endgame scenarios for the regime to plans for the country's post-dictatorship future. The senior [Obama] administration official said three practical outcomes were expected: recognition beyond NATO of the alliance's new leadership in protecting Libyan civilians; the creation of a "contact group" to lead enforcement of UN sanctions and other political efforts against the Gadhafi regime; and a second trip to the country by UN special envoy Abdelilah al-Khatib, a former Jordanian foreign minister.

The official suggested that al-Khatib's mission would be to negotiate the international community's terms for a graceful exit for Gadhafi to spare further bloodshed in Libya. But the official rejected the idea that the Libyan leader of 42 years could escape accountability and a possible war crimes trial as part of an agreement for him to go into exile — an idea floated by some in the coalition.

In a joint statement released Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy outlined their hopes for expanding the coalition’s mission beyond the now NATO-led military action.

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