(Updates with quotes starting in second paragraph.)
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is resisting a negotiated exit from power, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said before the start of a conference in Abu Dhabi to discuss the conflict in the North African country.
“We still don’t even know if Qaddafi will accept a negotiated exit, but of course there are many countries willing to facilitate this because it will end the conflict,” Jimenez told reporters today. “Finding a place for him is now the critical issue, since everyone has agreed he has to go.”
She declined to say which countries would be prepared to accept Qaddafi, while saying that Turkey and South Africa are involved in working on a solution to the issue. The Libyan leader remains in control of the capital, Tripoli, while rebels control the east of the country. NATO-led forces are conducting an air campaign in support of the rebels.
Foreign ministers from the 22-nation Libya Contact Group are holding their third meeting, and discussions are expected to deepen on what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies envision for a post-Qaddafi Libya, said senior U.S. administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The oil-rich United Arab Emirates is recruiting more Arab support for the air campaign during the meeting, according to the officials. The U.A.E. and Qatar were the first Arab nations to take part in the United Nations-authorized no-fly zone over Libya aimed at protecting civilians.
The escalation of NATO’s campaign was underscored June 7 by a daytime bombardment of Tripoli and targets in and around Qaddafi’s compound. Daylight strikes continued in the capital yesterday. The intensification comes as the rebels make gains and the Libyan leader faces a series of high-level defections.
“Qaddafi is history,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters yesterday in Brussels at a meeting of defense ministers from the 28-member alliance. “It may take weeks, but it could happen tomorrow -- and when he goes, the international community has to be ready.”
NATO will take a back seat in any transition and expects the UN to take the lead after Qaddafi leaves power, he said.
Oil rose for a third day in New York on speculation that OPEC’s failure to reach an agreement on output targets for the first time in at least 20 years may limit supply as U.S. inventories fell more than analysts forecast. Crude for July delivery rose as much as 96 cents to $101.70 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, and was at $100.94 at 10:20 a.m. London time.
Areas under rebel control are not producing any oil at the moment, Ali Tarhouni, finance minister of the rebels’ National Transitional Council, said in Abu Dhabi. “We are hoping soon,” he added, saying they expect production to rise to 100,000 barrels a day. Libya holds Africa’s largest reserves.
Tarhouni said countries “need to walk the walk” on providing financial assistance. Those opposing Qaddafi are in severe need and have yet to receive financial assistance, said Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice president of the NTC.
U.K. Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt told reporters that funding “is happening in a variety of ways,” and that further details may be announced today.
One option would be to unblock frozen assets of the Qaddafi regime as a guarantee to release “credits,” and allies are close to agreeing on a mechanism to get around legal impediments, Jimenez said. U.S. officials won’t let the rebels run out of cash, according to administration officials.
Italy plans to give the rebels as much as 400 million euros ($585 million) in cash and 150 million euros in fuel, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, peaking on customary condition of anonymity.
The meeting will be “a failure if there is no clear-cut financial agreement,” Tarhouni said.
--With assistance from Caroline Alexander in London, Nayla Razzouk in Amman, Leon Mangasarian in Berlin, Nicole Gaouette in Washington and Patrick Donahue in Berlin. Editors: Eddie Buckle, Louis Meixler
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