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London to host Libya conference

Britain is to host an international conference next Tuesday to plot the way forward in Libya after the imposition of the no-fly zone.

It will consider the need for humanitarian support for the Libyan people and the command structure currently being thrashed out to oversee military operations.

The US is increasingly keen to give up responsibility for the offensive against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces but on Wednesday Nato failed to agree terms about how it could take over.

There is particular wrangling over the need to demonstrate that support for the mission encompasses more than the Nato military alliance. Tuesday's conference, in London, is intended to bring Arab and African leaders together with ministers from countries involved in the intervention.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was essential to maintain "united and coordinated action" and that the conference would establish a "contact group" on Libya. The conference would take stock of how UN Security Council resolution 1973 was being implemented, he said.

"We will consider the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people and identify ways to support the people of Libya in their aspirations for a better future," he said.

Earlier, David Cameron said allied forces were making "good progress" in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, Mr Cameron said any suggestion that Muammar Gaddafi's forces were adhering to a second ceasefire was "complete nonsense".

He said: "I think, as we discussed on Monday, there has been an early and good effect in terms of regime forces having to retreat from Benghazi but clearly there is great concern about what the regime is doing in Misrata.

"Any idea that their second ceasefire is any more meaningful than the first ceasefire we can see is complete nonsense.

"I think we have made good progress in the no-fly zone, good progress in terms of turning some of those forces back and protecting civilians, but clearly this is early stages and a lot more remains to be done."

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