PARIS (Reuters) - France aims to host a meeting of international partners in Paris next week to lay out a roadmap for Libya’s future, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said, as rebels swept into Tripoli.
Juppe said it was not clear whether Muammar Gaddafi remained in the Libyan capital and he called on supporters of the 69-year-old leader, who fought last-ditch battles in the streets of Tripoli Monday, to lay down their arms.
“It’s over so the fighting has to stop to save lives,” Juppe told a news conference. “We call again for a ceasefire, there is no way out for the regime.”
France spearheaded the West’s military intervention in Libya but had been growing impatient in recent weeks.
President Nicolas Sarkozy made a gamble by taking a personal role in supporting the rebels and was anxious to avoid costly military operations running into the start of campaigning for the April 2012 presidential election.
“This is a subject of great satisfaction,” Juppe said. “France has taken risks for a just cause.”
Sarkozy spoke by telephone Monday with Mahmoud Jibril, leader of Libya’s National Transitional Council, and invited him to Paris Wednesday.
“We propose an extraordinary meeting of the contact group at the highest level as soon as next week to lay out an action plan with the Libyan authorities,” the foreign minister said.
An aide later clarified the meeting could happen in Paris.
The Libya contact group includes the United States, Britain, Arab states such as Qatar as well as the likes of the United Nations and Arab League.
It had been due to meet on the sidelines of a United Nations summit in September.
“It’s up to the Libyans and the Libyans alone to choose its future and to build a new Libya which will be a democratic Libya,” Juppe said.
“The transitional council will need the international community to accompany and help it and we’re determined to stay by its side,” Juppe told a news briefing.
Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said that the military aspect of France’s intervention in Libya appeared to be coming to an end and that Gaddafi would have to face the International Criminal Court.
“I sincerely hope the military aspect will now stop and that the political dimension will take over,” he told France Info radio. “As far as the military is concerned we have done our job, which was to protect civilians.”
Additional reporting by Vicky Buffery and Leigh Thomas; writing by John Irish and Daniel Flynn; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton