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Africa

Sarkozy, Cameron to visit Benghazi

media Sarkozy with Libyan rebel leader Mustapha Abdel Jalil at the Elysée Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is soon visit the Libyan rebel stronghold, Benghazi, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, according to the French daily Le Monde. Media-friendly philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy is behind the plan, according to the paper.

 

A date for the visit has yet to be fixed, Le Monde reports, partly because organisers hope the security situation might improve and partly because of the difficulty in finding a date when both leaders are free.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

 
But France’s Elysée presidential palace is liaising with the Transitional National Council in Benghazi and France has already sent more military advisers there, as have the UK and Italy.

“This would be a high-risk visit,” Lévy told Le Monde, with which he has close links, sitting on a committee which oversees the paper’s content. Snipers loyal to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi have killed a number of rebels in the city.

Lévy organised a visit by François Mitterrand to the besieged Bosnian capital of Sarajevo in 1992 but failed in his aim to persuade the then-president to supply arms to Muslim-Bosnian fighters.

“I hope this will get better results,” he said Friday.

Benghazi is doubtless the part of the world where Sarkozy is most popular, the paper comments sardonically, referring to the president’s record low standing in opinion polls at home. So, while the visit may not reverse that trend, it will not do him any harm, it adds.

On the international plane, the trip would reassert Europe’s role in supporting the Libyan rebels and send a message to Germany, whose government opposed air strikes, that Sarkozy has another partner in David Cameron’s Britain.

Lévy is reportedly known simply as “Mr Bernard” by Libyan rebel leaders and is said to have brokered visits by several of them to the Elysée.

France’s official representative in the rebel capital, Antoine Sivan, is believed to be unenthusiastic about the philosopher’s intervention but hs confirmed that the visit is being planned.

 

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