U.N. Chief Urges Libya Political solution, Ceasefire


U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for a "political" solution and immediate ceasefire to the conflict in Libya, at an international conference hosted by the Arab League in Cairo.

"We call for a political process so that the Libyan people can reach their aspirations," Ban, who co-chaired the meeting, told a news conference at the end of the gathering.

"We reiterate our call for an immediate ceasefire," said the U.N. secretary general.

European Union foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton, who also attended the Cairo conference, appealed to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to resign with immediate effect.

"The European Union's position is very clear, Gadhafi should step down immediately," she said.

"The only solution to end this crisis is a political one," she added, calling for "a dialogue between all parties that should lead to a transitional period."

The meeting was also attended by the head of the Organization of Islamic Conference Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping.

"This conference aims to examine the solutions and political issues of the Libyan crisis and to coordinate the efforts of these various organizations," Egyptian state news agency MENA quoted Ahmed Bin Halli, deputy secretary general of the Arab League, as saying ahead of the gathering.

The Cairo meeting comes the day after the Doha gathering of the Contact Group on Libya, which is responsible for monitoring international intervention in the North African nation.

The meeting decided to set up a fund to aid the rebellion, as well as reiterating the need for Moammar Gadhafi to step down.

Noureddine Mezni, a spokesman for Ping, said that "an international mechanism to implement a ceasefire" in Libya was discussed at the meeting.

"The key now is an immediate ceasefire. Thereafter, we suggest an inclusive, comprehensive dialogue and a transitional period during which the Libyan people will choose its own leaders," Mezni told reporters.

"Among the ideas discussed for a mechanism to implement a ceasefire is the deployment of an international force" to interpose between the two sides, he said.

"A military solution is ruled out, and supplying arms to any party only means more destruction during what is already a humanitarian catastrophe," he added.