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Sarkozy, Cameron hailed in Libya as forces enter Sirte

Sep 15, 2011, 3:53 p.m.
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, National Transitional Council (NTC) head Mustafa Abdul Jalil (C) and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron join hands in Benghazi, September 15, 2011. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Both countries offered continued military support against Gaddafi loyalists holding substantial parts of Libya as well as in hunting the former strongman and others wanted for crimes against humanity.

Sarkozy said he would raise the issue with neighbouring Niger, a former French colony where some of Gaddafi's senior aides and one of his sons have sought refuge.

"This is not over," Cameron said. "There are still parts of Libya that are under Gaddafi's control. Gaddafi is still at large and we must make sure that this work is completed."

At the beseiged loyalist stronghold of Bani Walid, residents were still trying to flee and reporting that others were trapped by gunmen.

REMEMBERING "FRIENDS"

Although Sarkozy denied talk among Arabs of "under the table deals for Libya's riches," Jalil said key allies could expect preferential treatment in return for their help in ending Gaddafi's rule.

"As a faithful Muslim people," he told reporters in Tripoli, "we will appreciate these efforts and they will have priority within a framework of transparency."

Other states which did business with Gaddafi, notably China and Russia, have been concerned that their lukewarm attitude to the NTC may cost them economically. While Jalil stressed a desire to allocate contracts on the best terms for Libya, and to honor existing contracts, he said some could be reviewed.

The need for Sarkozy and Cameron to visit Benghazi as well as Tripoli is a sign of the obstacles Libya still faces in transforming itself into a peaceful, unified democracy. The NTC has not yet been able to establish a government safely in a capital still bristling with militiamen from disparate groups.

(Reporting by Maria Golovnina near Bani Walid, Libya, William MacLean, Alexander Dziadosz, Joseph Logan and Emmanual Jarry in Tripoli, Sherine El Madany in Ras Lanuf, Emma Farge in Benghazi, Mark John and Bate Felix in Niamey, Barry Malone and Sylvia Westall in Tunis, Keith Weir and Alastair Macdonald in London, Catherine Bremer and John Irish in Paris; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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