As the battle rumbles on in Libya, diplomatic moves to rebuild the country are under way in Paris. President Nicolas Sarkozy is hosting a conference of rebel leaders and world powers aiming to map out a new future for the north African nation.
The ‘Friends of Libya’ summit, which follows on from an earlier summit with members of the National Transitional Council, will focus on political and economic reconstruction.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said: “Today we have to help the NTC, as the country is devastated. The humanitarian situation is difficult, there’s little water, electricity, fuel. Libya is potentially a rich country, it has frozen assets elsewhere that were embezzled by the previous regime, which we’re in the process of unfreezing. France, for example, has just authorised the release to the NTC of 1.5 billion euros.”
Unblocked funds have begun arriving in Tripoli but Libya’s new leaders say the flow will have to speed up to prevent further destabilisation of the country.
While officials are adamant the meeting is about securing political stability in Libya, French companies are planning a trade mission to get a head start on reconstruction contracts.
As well as big prospects for developing oil drilling, the end of the six-month conflict will open up big opportunities for infrastructure, electric power and telecoms companies.