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Libya sets out its political deal

Libya's leaders have named a new cabinet and promised to step down after the country is fully secured, putting an end to weeks of political infighting.

The head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, and de facto prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, made the announcement in a joint news conference in the former rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

Revolutionary forces are still battling loyalists of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi on two major fronts as well as pockets deep in the southern desert. But Mr Abdul-Jalil said liberation will be declared after Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte is captured because that would ensure the borders are secure. He also promised to name a new transitional government within a month after liberation is declared.

"We have signed a pledge ... that we will not take part in any future government in any way," he said.

The NTC has promised to hold elections eight months after the end of fighting. The definition of victory as the capture of the Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte is a tacit acknowledgement that the fierce resistance in the town of Bani Walid is likely to continue.

But Mr Abdul-Jalil noted that Bani Walid is landlocked and does not pose a threat to Libya's borders. "We ask Libyans to understand that this is a sensitive and critical stage," he told reporters.

After weeks of wrangling, the new Cabinet lineup did not contain many changes. Mr Jibril remains in his position but also takes over as foreign minister, meaning his current deputy and foreign minister Ali al-Issawi is out. Ali al-Tarhouni, a US-educated economist, will continue acting as oil minister until the National Oil Company is ready to take over.

Nato, meanwhile, urged Libya's new government to ensure the security of arms caches left behind by Gaddafi's regime. Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said it was "a matter of concern if stockpiles of weapons are not properly controlled and monitored."

He was answering questions about reports that thousands of SAM-7 portable surface-to-air missiles allegedly went missing after Gaddafi's army collapsed amid a rebel offensive supported by Nato air strikes.

The West is trying to reduce the global stock of such missiles, fearing they could fall into the hands of terrorists. The small, easily concealable SAM-7s are considered obsolete by modern military standards but could pose a threat to civil airliners.

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