US officials meet Qaddafi representatives. More talks to come?
Libya's rebels are under pressure to talk with representatives of Qaddafi's government, but recent military gains have solidified their resolve to fight to a resolution.
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Washington says the meeting, which took place in Tunisia over the weekend, was a one-time event with the purpose of insisting that Mr. Qaddafi step down from power. But Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim called the talks a "first step" and indicated that he expected them to continue, CNN reports.
"We are ready to discuss ideas to move forward, make sure that people are not harmed any more, that this conflict comes to an end and that the damaged relationship between Libya and the [United] States and other NATO countries can be repaired," he said.
The Libyan government has said repeatedly that it will not accept any agreement that removes Qaddafi from power.
After announcing that it will recognize the rebel government as the country's legitimate representative, Washington decided to tell Libyan officials face-to-face what it has been saying to the public for months: Qaddafi must go. According to a State Department official, Qaddafi's representatives have reached out to the US more frequently in recent weeks with no response, CNN reports.
The meeting included three US envoys, including US Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz, and four Libyan officials. According to the Guardian, French officials have also been meeting with Qaddafi's government.
Meanwhile, France is pressuring the rebels to negotiate with Qaddafi's government. The rebels have so far refused, believing that a military victory is inevitable and insisting that Qaddafi, his sons, and his "inner circle" be gone before they sit down with the rest of his government, the Los Angeles Times reports.