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Gaddafi in talks with rebels: Russian envoy
Tripoli, Jun 17 (PTI/Agecnies):
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Published on 17 Jun. 2011 9:58 PM IST
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Muammar Gaddafi’s regime is in direct talks with Libya’s rebels, a Russian envoy has indicated, as the strongman’s son said the way out of a months-long conflict is the staging of elections.
Russia’s Mikhail Margelov, in Tripoli for one day after visiting the rebels in their Benghazi stronghold last week, made the remarks following a meeting Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi.
“I was assured at Friday’s negotiations that direct contacts between Benghazi and Tripoli are already underway,” Margelov said on Thursday, quoted by Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency.
“The Libyan prime minister told me that a round of such contacts concluded yesterday in Paris,” he said, adding French President Nicolas Sarkozy “has been informed of the outcome of these contacts.”
He did not disclose the nature of the talks, which could not be confirmed by the rebels’ National Transitional Council.
Mahmudi said Gaddafi’s departure from power was a “red line” that cannot be crossed, despite growing international calls for him to quit and the armed insurrection against his 41-year rule.
“Of utmost concern to us in any dialogue is the unity of Libya,” Mahmudi told a news conference in Tripoli.
His remarks came after Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam said the only way to break the deadlock was to hold elections in coming months.
NATO raids Tripoli at mid day:
NATO warplanes dashed into the Libyan capital Tripoli at mid-day on Friday, pounding a target in the south of the city and sending a thick cloud of black smoke rising high into the air.
A series of explosions rumbled across other parts of the city as fighter jets could by heard flying overhead. Fire engines raced through the streets, sirens blaring.
It wasn’t clear what was hit or whether there were casualties. Friday is the main day of rest in Libya, with many people off work.
NATO has been ramping up the pressure on Muammar Qadhafi’s regime. Though most airstrikes happen under cover of darkness, daytime raids have grown more frequent. Friday’s raids follow a barrage that struck multiple targets late Thursday night.
The fresh strikes blasted the capital as renewed diplomatic efforts to halt Libya’s civil war appeared to be gaining momentum, though there are no signs a breakthrough is imminent.
On Thursday, Russia’s envoy to Libya met with senior government leaders in Tripoli, but not Gadhafi himself, in an effort to stop the fighting.
Last week, the envoy Mikhail Margelov visited the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and said that Gadhafi has lost his legitimacy. However, the envoy also said NATO airstrikes are not a solution to Libya’s violent stalemate.

 
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