09/02/2011, 00.00
LIBYA
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Gaddafi promises to fight "until the end." In Paris, promises of tolerance and elections

In an audio message the Rais warns that his tribe will never give up, that "the battle will be long and inflame Libya." In Paris, NATO commits to new air strikes to "protect civilians". Mustafa Abdul Jalil promises a new constitution and elections within 18 months. Russia recognizes the National Transitional Council. China calls for UN intervention.
Tripoli (AsiaNews / Agencies) - " We won't surrender again; we are not women. We will keep fighting" is the audio message released by Muammar Gaddafi, while in Paris the countries “Friends of Libya" discuss the future of the country along with representatives of the National Transitional Council (NTC).

The Rais released his audio message through Syrian Al-Rai television stating that thousands of armed and well trained troops loyal to him are preparing for battle.

The hunt for Gaddafi is the number one goal of the rebels who have controlled Tripoli since August 20, with the help of aerial bombing of NATO and with the support of military advisers on the ground. Three areas remain linked to the Nasser regime: Sirte, Gaddafi's home; Bani Walid, 140 kilometres southeast of Tripoli, Sabha, in the southern desert. All three areas had been delivered an ultimatum, which expires tomorrow. But the NTC has decided to extend the ultimatum by one week. Officially, the extension only regards Sirte, but some rebels have said the same applies to Bani Walid and Sabha. In his message, Gaddafi said the tribes of Sirte and Bani Walid would never submit and that "the battle will be long and inflame Libya."

Meanwhile in Paris a meeting chaired by French President Nicholas Sarkozy welcomed the birth of the "new Libya",in the presence of representatives from 63 nations, including Russia, China and the UN secretary-general.

Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron said that the NATO air raids and bombardments would continue as long as "Gaddafi and his supporters are a threat to Libya" and to "protect civilians". The "protection of civilians" was the original motivation for NATO's intervention in this war, which so far - according to rebels’ figures – has led to the deaths of 50 thousand people.

With a certain rhetoric, Cameron said that it was "the people of Libya who liberates Libya." The head of the NTC, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has promised that Libyans will build a country of tolerance, forgiveness and respect for law. He has also promised a new constitution and elections within 18 months.

The international representatives have decided to release most of the Libyan funds frozen in their banks, which should help in the reconstruction and the resumption of oil production. At least 15 billion U.S. dollars will be cleared immediately.

Even the European Union decided today to lift sanctions on 28 entities - including oil companies and port authorities - to help the NTC to revive the Libyan economy.

Yesterday, the NTC also received the diplomatic recognition of Russia. China, however, continues to demand that the UN be responsible for the transition.

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