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Italy rejects Qaddafi, recognizes Libyan rebel government

Italy today became the third nation to recognize Libya's rebels as the legitimate government, dealing a blow to attempts by Muammar Qaddafi and his sons to negotiate a diplomatic settlement.

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Rebels reject Qaddafi and sons

But any confidence in Tripoli that such a solution might be possible – given nearly two months of uprising, violent suppression, antigovernment rebellion, and finally NATO airstrikes against loyalist forces – was on Monday quickly shot down by the rebels.

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“Qaddafi and his sons have to leave before any diplomatic negotiations can take place,” said Shamseddin Abdulmelah, spokesman of the rebel Transitional National Council in Benghazi. Continued government attacks against the rebel-held enclave of Misratah, at two other cities in the west, and along the eastern front line, meant the rebels did not take Tripoli’s diplomatic effort seriously.

“How can you negotiate at the point of a gun?” said Mr. Abdulmelah, according to Agence France-Presse.

That rejection came after Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelati Laabidi met on Sunday with Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas in Athens.

“According to what the Libyan envoy said the regime seems to be looking for a solution,” Mr. Droutsas said. He told the Libyan official that Tripoli had to abide by UN Security Council decisions, implement a ceasefire, and put “an end to violence and hostilities, particularly against the civilian population of Libya.”

What any solution might entail was far from clear Monday, as the Libyan envoy continued traveling to Turkey and Malta.

These countries were “less aggressive” toward Libya, the government spokesman Musa Ibrahim told the Monitor, and so they could play a mediating role between Libya and the array of nations now allied against it.

“We have the feeling that many decent people around the world are realizing that they based their previous positions against Libya on misinformation and media propaganda against the country,” says Mr. Ibrahim.

“But they are starting to realize that it’s very possible and is productive to communicate with the Libyan government, and many even feel embarrassed by the positions they took based on media reports about Libya committing massacres and killings," he says.

Stalemate improves climate for talks

An international alliance galvanized against Qaddafi last month amid an uprising of what Qaddafi called drug-addled “terrorists” with an Al Qaeda agenda whom he vowed to hunt down like “rats." His son and heir-apparent Saif al-Islam, who had for years presented himself as an eventual force for reform in Libya, has said no mercy would be shown to the rebels, stating in February: “We will keep fighting until the last man standing, even to the last woman standing ... We will eradicate them [enemies] all."


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