Clinton to attend Libya group meeting next week

WASHINGTON Wed Jun 1, 2011 1:07am IST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures during a speech at UNESCO headquarters in Paris May 26, 2011. REUTERS/Thibault Camus/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures during a speech at UNESCO headquarters in Paris May 26, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Thibault Camus/Pool

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend a meeting of the NATO-backed coalition against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi next week as the group seeks to accelerate the campaign to end his rule.

The State Department said the meeting of the Libya Contact Group would be June 9 in the United Arab Emirates at the start of Clinton's trip to several African nations.

A State Department statement said the meeting would build on the coalition's May 5 gathering in Rome. At that meeting the group offered a financial lifeline potentially worth billions of dollars to rebels fighting Gaddafi in an uprising inspired by popular revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

The Libya Contact Group includes the United States, France, Britain, Italy, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan.

Western powers have said they expect Gaddafi will be forced out by a process of attrition as air strikes, defections from his entourage and shortages take their toll -- although the ground campaign looks deadlocked with rebels unable to advance toward Tripoli, where Gaddafi appears entrenched.

Clinton's Africa trip will include stops in Zambia, where she will attend a meeting with representatives of 37 African countries covered by the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which grants favorable access to U.S. markets.

She also will visit Tanzania and Ethiopia, where she will meet with leaders of the African Union, which has sought to advance its own plan for ending the Libya conflict.

South African President Jacob Zuma, traveling as an AU representative, visited Tripoli on Monday but emerged with little progress on Gaddafi's refusal to quit, a condition that both NATO and the rebels insist on for any cease-fire.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

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