Russian official claims Qaddafi willing to cede power in Libya
Despite the Russian media report, the Libyan government denies Qaddafi will consider stepping down and rebels say he must face justice.
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Russia's negotiation efforts have increased since a meeting with President Obama in May. The Times writes that Qaddafi is a "major buyer" of Russian weapons and President Dmitry Medvedev agreed to use his country's leverage with Qaddafi to try to convince him to cede power.Skip to next paragraph
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The report also follows possible negotiation meetings between the Libyan government and the rebels that the rebels deny are happening. The National Transitional Council's head, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, said no negotiations between the two governments were taking place and also said earlier reports that the rebels would allow Qaddafi to remain in the country were false, the Associated Press reports. In Tripoli, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim told reporters that his government has been talking with rebel officials for two months, although he acknowledged that there are several members opposed to talks.
According to the Times, Mr. Abdul-Jalil said reports about allowing Qaddafi to remain in the country were based on comments of his to Reuters that were misconstrued as official policy. Abdul-Jalil said in a statement “that [Qaddafi] can resign and order his soldiers to withdraw their barracks and positions, and then he can decide either to stay in Libya or abroad.”
“I would like to confirm that there is absolutely no current or future possibility for Qaddafi to remain in Libya,” the statement read. “The N.T.C. has at all times been committed to achieving peace and stability for Libya and its people. As part of this commitment, we have been obliged to consider all kinds of scenarios, and I provided one such former example in today’s interview that was discussed by the N.T.C. some time ago.
“There is no escape clause for Qaddafi – he must be removed from power and face justice. This is a fact further highlighted by the arrest warrant issued by the Internation [sic] Criminal Court for the crimes that Qaddafi has committed against our civilians.”
Although Russia has taken a lead role in negotiations with Libya, it remains critical of NATO's military intervention in the country. A routine NATO-Russia meeting in Russia on Monday put a spotlight on the disagreement, with NATO head Mr. Rasmussen vociferously defending NATO's actions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lazarov said that disagreements about Libya were hindering cooperation efforts in other areas, BBC reports.