The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has put off making a final decision on whether it will end its military presence in Libya as discussions continued Wednesday with the United Nations and the country's interim government over how and when it to wind down the operation, the Associated Press reported.
Preliminary plans were made last week to phase the alliance out of Libya by Oct. 31. NATO's governing body -- the North Atlantic Council, or NAC -- was expected to formalize that decision Wednesday.
On Wednesday, spokeswoman Carmen Romero said NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmusssen was conducting consultations with the UN and Libya's National Transition Council (NTC).
The NAC will meet with partners on Friday to discuss our Libya mission and take a formal decision, she said, adding that there was an ongoing process in the UN Security Council.
But Libya's interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil has begged NATO to continue its mission until at least the end of the year, saying the extension of the mission would help prevent remnants of Moammar Gadhafi's loyalists from regrouping and posing a threat to security.
We hope NATO will continue its campaign until at least the end of this year to serve us and neighboring countries, Jalil, head of Libya's NTC, said at the first international planning conference for Libya since Gadhafi's death last week.
This request is aimed at ensuring that no arms are infiltrated into those countries and to ensure the security of Libyans from some remnants of Gadhafi's forces who have fled to nearby countries.
In any event, Libya is expected to be under close watch by the international community, as the NTC is under scrutiny by human rights groups who have many questions about the way Gadhafi's death was handled.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Tuesday declined to say whether President Barack Obama and his administration intend to seek military ties with Libya's new government, amid uncertainty about Islamist influences, the AP wrote.
NATO's 26,000 sorties, including 9,600 strike missions, destroyed about 5,900 military targets since they started on March 31.