Global Market Data
Global News Journal
Pakistan: Now or Never?
Front Row Washington
The Great Debate
Personal Finance Video
Life & Culture
UBS $2 billion rogue trade suspect held
Geithner to discuss leveraging EU bailout fund
Sarkozy, Cameron hailed in Libya, offer help
Central banks expand dollar operations
Analysis: Happy talk not compromise in Congress
GM, Chrysler extend UAW contracts
Roof collapse hurts 17 at U.S.-Mexico crossing
MuniLand: A small part of the American Jobs Act
Video: Housing poses greatest threat to economy
Slideshow: Eyes on 2012
Brad Pitt says thoughts on Aniston misunderstood
Scarlett Johansson naked pictures leaked on Web
14 Sep 2011
Nude Scarlett Johansson Photos Pop Up Online -- FBI's Hot on the Trail
14 Sep 2011
Netflix's Ted Sarandos takes stage as share prices plummet
15 Sep 2011
RIM results, outlook stun investors even after warning
15 Sep 2011
Al Gore in 24-hour broadcast to convert climate skeptics
Number of poor hit record 46 million in 2010
Egyptians demolish Israel embassy wall at protest
Scarlett's naked pics, Tyler Perry is highest paid
Wed, Sep 14 2011
Lessons with Lego: the EU crisis
Thu, Sep 15 2011
Buenos Aires Fashion week sizzles
Mon, Aug 22 2011
Erdogan to visit Libya as Sirte battle rages
Latest developments in the Libyan conflict
Thu, Sep 15 2011
Anti-Gaddafi forces speed towards Bani Walid
Niger says France should not interfere on Libyans
Thu, Sep 15 2011
Analysis & Opinion
Libya disavows extremist Islam as the world looks on
Grouper, Spinner founders enter VC fray
Aerospace & Defense »
Heroes' welcome for Sarkozy and Cameron in Libya
Thu, Sep 15 2011
Sarkozy and Cameron hailed as heroes in Libya
UK’s Cameron attends Benghazi rally
UK's Cameron visits Tripoli to back NTC
Gaddafi in Libya, readying forces: Spokesman
1 of 10. France's President Nicolas Sarkozy, National Transitional Council (NTC) head Mustafa Abdul Jalil (C) and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron join hands in Benghazi, September 15, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Philippe Wojazer
By Joseph Logan and Emma Farge
Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:31am EDT
TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI (Reuters) - Turkey's prime minister heads to Libya on Friday, a day after the French and British leaders won a hero's welcome there for helping to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and in the midst of a fierce battle over Gaddafi's home town.
Tayyip Erdogan, on a North African tour to assert Ankara's regional influence, will be hoping to reap political and economic dividends from Libya's new rulers for his country's help in their struggle to end Gaddafi's 42-year grip on power.
After nearly seven months of fighting, anti-Gaddafi forces backed by NATO air power control most of Libya, including oil-producing centers and the capital Tripoli, which they seized last month.
But they have met fierce resistance in a handful of pro-Gaddafi bastions such as the desert town of Bani Walid, the southern outpost of Sabha and Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace 450 km (280 miles) east of Tripoli which they tried to take on Thursday.
"They have now entered the city. There was a coordinated push from the south, east and west and from along the coast. I'm not sure how far they have been able to enter," said Abdulrahman Busin, military spokesman for the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC).
"They are coming under heavy fire. There is a particular problem with snipers."
Gaddafi's spokesman said he had thousands of supporters.
"We are telling you that as of tomorrow there will be atrocious attacks by NATO and their agents on the ground on the resisting towns of Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha," Mousa Ibrahim told Syrian-based Arrai television late on Thursday.
The television said 16 people had been killed in Sirte, including women and children, as a result of NATO bombing, and that Gaddafi forces had destroyed a NATO warship and several vehicles. None of the reports could be independently verified.
In Bani Walid, which anti-Gaddafi forces are wary of storming for fear of alienating a powerful local tribe, residents were still trying to flee, and reported that others were trapped by gunmen.
France and Britain spearheaded the air campaign that ousted Gaddafi, but Turkey -- which had contracts worth $15 billion in Libya -- backed it reluctantly and was slow to recognize those now leading the oil-rich north African state.
A Turkish ship did play a key role in evacuating civilians from the coastal town of Misrata while it was besieged by Gaddafi forces, and Ankara has recently been vocal in supporting the NTC and provided it with $300 million in cash, loans and other aid.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron were told their support may be repaid in business contracts with the oil-rich North African state.
Turkish companies with business in Libya are hoping the Council will honor pending payments once assets are unfrozen, and Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has said he wants state-owned oil and gas exploration company TPAO to resume oil exploration and production work in Libya if security is established.
That depends to a large extent on the fate of Gaddafi who, wanted by the International Criminal Court, is rumored to be hiding in one of the loyalist strongholds.
In Benghazi, seat of the uprising which early intervention by French and British jets helped to save from Gaddafi's army in March, Sarkozy and Cameron were treated to a rowdy welcome on Thursday, shouting over a cheering crowd.
"It's great to be here in free Benghazi and in free Libya," said Cameron as he strained to be heard above the chants in scenes from the former rebel stronghold televised live across the globe.
The French president, struggling for re-election next year, beamed at grateful chants of "One, two, three; Merci Sarkozy!" while the two leaders, flanking NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil, held his arms aloft like a victorious boxer.
"France, Great Britain, Europe, will always stand by the side of the Libyan people," said Sarkozy, whom many Libyans credit with making a decisive gamble, pulling in a hesitant United States and securing U.N. backing for NATO air strikes to halt Gaddafi's tanks as they closed in to crush Benghazi.
Although Sarkozy denied talk among Arabs of "under the table deals for Libya's riches," Jalil said key allies could expect preferential treatment in return for their help in ending Gaddafi's rule.
"As a faithful Muslim people," he told reporters in Tripoli, "we will appreciate these efforts and they will have priority within a framework of transparency."
Erdogan, who has visited Egypt and Tunisia this week, has been holding up Turkey's blend of Islam and democracy as a model for the movements that have toppled longtime Arab rulers in Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli.
He has already won plaudits from Libya's new rulers.
"We expect the world community to follow the wonderful support of Turkey, its leading role and effort. Turkey has done an amazing job," Aref al-Nayed, Libyan ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, told a recent Libya Contact Group meeting in Istanbul.
Other states which did business with Gaddafi, notably China and Russia, have been concerned that their lukewarm attitude to the NTC may cost them economically. While Jalil stressed a desire to allocate contracts on the best terms for Libya, and to honor existing contracts, he said some could be reviewed.
(Reporting by Maria Golovnina near Bani Walid, Libya, William MacLean, Alexander Dziadosz, Joseph Logan and Emmanual Jarry in Tripoli, Sherine El Madany in Ras Lanuf, Emma Farge in Benghazi, Mark John and Bate Felix in Niamey, Barry Malone and Sylvia Westall in Tunis, Keith Weir and Alastair Macdonald in London, Catherine Bremer and John Irish in Paris; writing by Philippa Fletcher; editing by Daniel Magnowski)
Aerospace & Defense
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Social Stream (What's this?)
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Advertise With Us
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.