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Libya rebels to hold talks in Turkey

Updated: 2011-07-06 08:16

(China Daily)

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ANKARA, Turkey - A leader of the Libyan opposition was scheduled to hold talks in Ankara on Tuesday, shortly after Turkey recognized a rebel council battling Muammar Gadhafi's rule, a senior Turkish diplomat said.

Mahmud Jibril, who handles foreign affairs for the Transitional National Council (TNC), based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, was to have three-way talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his United Arab Emirates (UAE) counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

The talks were meant to prepare the ground for a meeting of the so-called International Contact Group on Libya, scheduled for July 15 to 16 in Istanbul, the diplomat said.

The group includes all countries participating in the NATO-led campaign targeting Libyan government and major regional players.

The UAE hosted the previous meeting of the group in June, at which the countries discussed what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called an inevitable "post-Gadhafi Libya", and Italy promised hundreds of millions of euros in aid to answer rebel pleas for funds.

Also on Tuesday, Davutoglu was to meet separately with the special UN envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, the Turkish diplomat said.

The increased diplomatic activity comes amid a toughening Turkish stance on Libya after Ankara's initial criticism of the Western airstrikes targeting Gadhafi's forces.

On Sunday, Davutoglu visited Benghazi, recognized the TNC as "the legitimate representative of the Libyan people" and offered $200 million in aid.

A Russian newspaper said on Tuesday that Gadhafi was willing to give up power in exchange for security guarantees, citing a high-level Russian official.

The report of the daily Kommersant, which did not identify its source, came a day after the search for ways to end the war in Libya dominated Russia's talks with NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen and South African President Jacob Zuma.

"The colonel (Gadhafi) is sending signals that he is prepared to relinquish power in exchange for security guarantees," Kommersant quoted what it called a high-level source in the Russian leadership as saying.

The source said in the report that other nations, potentially including France, were willing to provide those guarantees.

The African Union has created a "roadmap" for the Libyan crisis, which is praised and supported by Chinese government, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

Hong urged all sides in Libya to start a political dialogue with tangible efforts to solve the current crisis in a political manner.

"Military force can't solve the problem and it would only complicate the situation," he said. "All sides in Libya should treat the current situation rationally and reach a cease-fire as soon as possible."


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