Government officials from around the world have gathered in Doha, Qatar for a summit on finding a resolution to the crisis in Libya after weeks of deadly fighting and fears of a military deadlock.
The so-called contact group in Qatar includes the U.S., European powers, Middle East allies as well as some international organizations.
The delegates will discuss options for providing additional political, financial and military assistance to the rebels.
A document demanding the resignation of Moammar Gaddafi may also be drafted,
We should ... move forward quickly to ensure that nations wishing to support the [rebel Libyan] interim National Council … can do so in a transparent manner, said British foreign secretary, William Hague.
He urged delegates to agree on maintaining pressure on the Gaddafi regime by implementing the [UN] Security Council resolution and enforcing sanctions... making clear that Gaddafi has to leave.
The host of the summit, crown price of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, has warned delegates that this is a race against time to save Libyan civilians.
There are some contentious subjects to be discussed.
A spokesman for the Italian foreign ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari said ahead of the summit that discussion about arming the rebels is definitely on the table.
However, there is wide disagreement over the arming of rebels among European nations. Steven Vanackere, the Belgian Foreign Minister said he was opposed to the idea.
The UN resolution speaks about protecting civilians, not arming them, he said.
Libyan rebel groups are also at the summit for their first high-profile diplomatic endeavor.
Rebel spokesman, Mahmud Shammam, said: We want to move from the de facto recognition of the council to an internationally recognized legitimacy, according to BBC News.
Shamman also said that his group will accept nothing less than the removal of Gaddafi and his sons from power. They also are seeking a lifting of sanctions on eastern Libya (which the rebels control).
No member of the Gaddafi regime is expected to attend the summit.
Perhaps the most interesting attendee in Qatar is Moussa Koussa, the former Libyan foreign minister who defected to Britain two weeks ago. He is expected to meet with Qatari government officials and provide his insights into the Libya quagmire, according to British officials.
It remains unclear if Koussa will be directly involved in the summit or not.
A Libyan rebel spokesman, Mustafa Gheriani, told Agence France-Presse that Koussa was not connected to it in any way or shape.
Gheriani also said he was surprised by Koussa’s arrival in Qatar and indicated that UK officials should explain his presence and purpose there.
NATO’s performance and role in Libya will also be on the summit agenda.
Ahead of the Qatar parley, Hague told reporters: What may appear at the moment a military deadlock is not a deadlock in the world of diplomacy and sanctions, the isolation of the regime, and I hope the recognition of many in the regime that it has no long-term future.”
Hague added that he could not say how long the impasse in Libya will continue, but thinks NATO air strikes has saved thousands of lives.
Still, Hague and his French counterpart Alain Juppe have complained that NATO was not doing enough to protect Libyan rebels and civilians.
NATO must play its role fully. It wanted to take the lead in operations, Juppe said. NATO has defended its performance in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya as well as maintaining an arms embargo.
Not surprisingly, the Libyan government has condemned the Qatar summit.
A spokesman in Tripoli said: We are very hopeful that the American people and the American government will not buy into the Qatari lies and Qatari schemes. Qatar is hardly a partner of any kind. It's more of an oil corporation than a true nation.”