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Libya offers truce as ICC readies arrest warrants

world Updated: May 16, 2011 16:16 IST
AFP
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Muammar Gaddafi's regime offered a truce in return for an immediate NATO ceasefire, as the International Criminal Court on Monday considered arrest warrants for human rights abuses in Libya.

Gaddafi's prime minister proposed the truce yesterday to the visiting UN special envoy to Libya, Abdul-Ilah al-Khatib, as an anti-regime revolt entered a fourth month.

Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi, quoted by JANA state news agency, said after meeting Khatib that Libya wants "an immediate ceasefire to coincide with a stop to the NATO bombardment and the acceptance of international observers."

Libya, he added, was committed to the unity of its territory and people and that Libyans had the right to "decide on their internal affairs and political system through democratic dialogue away from the bombing threat."

Mahmudi accused NATO, which is enforcing a UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya, of "abuses and violations" including "political assassinations, the unjust maritime siege, bombing of civilian sites and destruction of infrastructure."

During the meeting, Khatib pressed the need for a ceasefire and access to stricken Libyan cities, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said in New York.

Regime officials told the UN envoy they were "open and ready to fully engage," Nesirky. No mention was made however of the Libyan offer of a ceasefire.

Khatib also met with Libya's foreign minister Abdelati Laabidi and tribal leaders who support the regime, but he was unable to get a meeting with Gaddafi, who has had two rounds of UN sanctions imposed since his crackdown on opposition protests started in mid-February.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke by telephone with Mahmudi yesterday, but no details were given of their discussions. The UN leader has made repeated calls for a ceasefire, including in a stormy telephone discussion with Gaddafi.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor meanwhile said yesterday he was "almost ready" for a Libyan rights abuse trial, as he prepared to apply for arrest warrants.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo is expected to ask ICC judges in The Hague to issue three arrest warrants today, when the names of the accused could be revealed.

Diplomats have said Gaddafi would likely head the list.