News / Africa

Foreign Oil Companies Resume Operations in Libya

Libyan residents of Jamal Goubtan district in Tripoli hold a giant former Libyan flag for the cars driving under in the streets of Tripoli, Libya, Sept. 1, 2011
Libyan residents of Jamal Goubtan district in Tripoli hold a giant former Libyan flag for the cars driving under in the streets of Tripoli, Libya, Sept. 1, 2011

Libya's provisional authority says five international energy firms are resuming operations in the country, a critical step in Tripoli's efforts to rebuild an economy wracked by civil unrest and sanctions. National Transitional Authority member Aref Ali Nayed said Friday the companies include Italian oil giant ENI.

He made the comments during Paris meetings between members of Libya's interim ruling council and foreign officials who are working to find specific ways to help the country emerge from months of fighting Moammar Gadhafi.

The Friday session in Paris comes a day after world leaders also meeting there pledged $15 billion in financial and humanitarian support to Libya's provisional government.  Libya's reconstruction team is determining how best that newly released money should be spent.

Meanwhile, Turkey reopened its embassy in Libya on Friday, following the Thursday announcement that other countries - notably Romania and Russia - recognized the National Transitional Council as Libya's "ruling authority."

Separately Thursday, a military official with Libya's interim government called Gadhafi "delusional," in response to the former leader's recent audio messages calling for his supporters to continue fighting.

NTC military spokesman Colonel Ahmad Bani said late Thursday that Gadhafi has no connection to Libyans at all and accused him of trying to flee the country.

Bani also said the NTC's forces want to "avoid bloodshed," as they seek to take over Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte.  But he said they are "ready and able to have a decisive battle," if Gadhafi loyalists there do not surrender within the next week.

Bani's comments follow the broadcast of two audio messages attributed to Gadhafi on Arabic television news channels earlier Thursday.

In the messages, Gadhafi said his loyalists would never surrender and would leave the country "engulfed in flames" from guerrilla warfare.  He also accused NATO of seeking to occupy Libya and vowed to prevent oil exports.

NTC forces, who have effectively ended Gadhafi's rule, have given loyalist fighters in Sirte an additional week to surrender. The NTC had originally set a Saturday deadline, but then said negotiations with tribal elders had made progress.  The extension of the deadline also applies to other strongholds of Gadhafi supporters.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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