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 today’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.
“Elections, immediately and with international supervision. It’s the only painless way to break out of the impasse in Libya,” the son told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.