UNITED NATIONS U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called on forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to stop fighting and allow a peaceful transition of power in the oil-producing North African state.
"It is crucial now for the conflict to end with no further loss of life and retribution," he said. "I welcome the assurances given by the chairman of the National Transitional Council ... that extreme care would be taken to protect people and public institutions and to maintain law and order."
"I call on Colonel Gaddafi's forces to cease violence immediately and make way for a smooth transition," he said.
Speaking to reporters, Ban said he intended to convene an urgent meeting later this week of the heads of regional and international organizations like the African Union, Arab League and European Union to discuss the situation in Libya.
He said that his special envoy on post-conflict planning for Libya, Ian Martin, and the U.N. envoy for Libya, Abdel Elah al-Khatib, would travel to Doha soon to meet with the leadership of Libya's rebel National Transitional Council.
"The United Nations stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the Libyan people," Ban said.
He added that all U.N. member states are obligated to comply with decisions of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which has issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief on suspicion of crimes against humanity and other war crimes.
The Libyan rebels, who say they have captured Saif al-Islam and two other Gaddafi sons, have indicated they might want to try the trio in Libya instead of handing them over the ICC.
"The international community has a duty, all the member states of the United Nations, ... to fully comply with the decisions of the ICC," he said.
(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau, editing by Eric Beech)