BEIJING (Reuters) - The United Nations should lead post-war efforts in Libya, China's Foreign Minister told the U.N. chief, adding that Beijing was willing to help rebuild the north African country.
In a phone call with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi suggested Beijing wants bodies such as the U.N., rather than Western governments alone, to coordinate international involvement in post-war Libya.
This would give China a say in decisions, despite the leading role Western powers played in defeating the forces of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.
"The United Nations should play a leading role in post-war arrangements for Libya, and China encourages the United Nations to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the African Union and Arab League," Yang said, according to the ministry website late on Tuesday (www.mfa.gov.cn).
China is "willing to work alongside the United Nations to promote a rapid stabilization in Libya and a swift course toward reconciliation and reconstruction," said Yang.
"The international community should continue offering humanitarian aid to Libya," he added.
Beijing has yet to formally recognize the rebel forces as Libya's new leaders, but Yang's comments add to signs that Beijing wants a stake in guiding Libya's future as Gaddafi's support crumbles and rebels take control of Tripoli.
On Tuesday, China urged Libya to protect Chinese investments and said their oil trade benefited both countries, after a Libyan rebel warned that Chinese oil companies could lose out after the ousting of Gaddafi because Beijing did not offer enough support to the rebels.
China and Russia have a tradition of opposing intervention in sovereign states, even when Western governments favor military action on humanitarian grounds.
China did not use its U.N. Security Council veto power in March to block a resolution that authorized the NATO bombing campaign against Gaddafi's forces, but it then condemned the strikes and urged compromise between his government and rebels.
Since then, Beijing has courted Libyan rebels by hosting their leaders and sending envoys for talks.
China is the world's second-biggest oil consumer, and last year it obtained 3 percent of its imported crude from Libya.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills and Daniel Magnowski)