March 28, 2011 / 2:43 PM / 8 years ago

France, UK urge Gaddafi supporters to drop him now

Prime Minister David Cameron addresses a news conference after an European Union leaders summit in Brussels March 25, 2011. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

PARIS (Reuters) - France and Britain called on Monday for supporters of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to drop him before it was “too late” and asked Libyans opposing him to join a political process to pave the way for his departure.

“Gaddafi must go immediately,” President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister David Cameron said in a joint declaration.

“We call on all his supporters to drop him before it is too late,” they said, adding anybody against him should join a process for political transition.

Foreign ministers from coalition countries taking part in the U.N.-mandated operation in Libya will meet in London on Tuesday to discuss political strategies to help bring an end to Gaddafi’s rule.

“We underline the fact that we do not envisage any military occupation of Libya,” the statement said. “We reaffirm our firm commitment to sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya.”

The joint statement repeated France and Britain’s position that Gaddafi should stand down immediately, as his government has lost legitimacy, and it said the talks in London would be key to launching a long-term political solution for the North African oil producing nation.

It urged the Libyan National Council opposition group to open a national dialogue aimed at starting a transition towards constitutional reform and free and regular elections.

“We call on all Libyans who believe Gaddafi will lead Libya to ruin to mobilise immediately to create a transition process,” the statement said.

Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou and Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Louise Ireland

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