France's foreign minister said on Tuesday that Paris has had contact with emissaries from Muammar Gaddafi, who say the embattled Libyan strongman is "prepared to leave."
Alain Juppe said that while the contacts do not constitute proper negotiations, "everyone (involved in Libya's civil war) has contacts with everyone else. The Libyan regime sends its messengers all over, to Turkey, to New York, to Paris. "We receive emissaries who are saying, 'Gaddafi is prepared to leave. Let's discuss it.'"
France was instrumental in launching the NATO led operation of airstrikes against Gaddafi's forces, in a UN mandated mission to protect civilians resisting his four decade regime.
French officials have insisted that Gaddafi's giving up power is key to ending the hostilities, which began in mid-March, and Juppe said that more and more countries are now in agreement on that point.
"There is a consensus on how to end the crisis, which is that Gaddafi has to leave power," Juppe said. "That (consensus) was absolutely not a given two or three months ago. "The question is no longer whether Gaddafi is going to leave power, but when and how," he added.
Parliament is due to vote later on Tuesday on whether to continue French participation in the operations in Libya.
French law requires parliamentary approval for all military campaigns lasting more than four months. The Libya operation has wide support among lawmakers from both the governing conservative party and among the opposition socialists, and the vote is expected to pass with a broad majority.