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Rebels reject talks, demand Gaddafi quits Libya

world Updated: Mar 08, 2011 20:07 IST

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The Libyan rebel leadership on Tuesday rejected any question of talks with Moamer Gaddafi after volunteer go-betweens approached their council, demanding that he leave the country.

Although it was unclear whether the issue was raised of immunity for the man who has ruled Libya with an iron fist for four decades, the head of the rebels' council told AFP they would not pursue criminal charges if Gaddafi quits.

Asked about a Gaddafi representative making an offer of talks, former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil said the Libyan ruler had not sent anyone himself, but that activist lawyers from Tripoli had volunteered as go-betweens.

"He didn't send anyone. People put themselves forth as intermediaries to stop the flow of blood and to end what the people in (Libya's third city of) Misrata are being subjected to," Jalil told AFP by telephone.

Libyan rebels fighting to overthrow Gaddafi have captured most of the east, including oil fields, but their advance has since stalled at the oil town of Ras Lanuf after they were beaten back from the hamlet of Bin Jawad on Sunday.

Witnesses reported two air strikes, but no casualties, to the east of Ras Lanuf on Monday and an AFP correspondent said the rebel presence at the town's main checkpoint was thin.

"These people are activist lawyers from Tripoli," said Jalil, in reference to the reports of a Gaddafi intermediary approaching the council.

"We are of course with ending the bloodshed, but first he has to resign and then he has to leave and then we won't pursue him criminally," he added.

Rebel representatives had earlier told AFP that an approach had been made to the rebels on behalf of Gaddafi, but insisted there would be no negotiations.

"I think there was an attempt from Gaddafi's people with the provisional national council. It has been rejected," said Mustafa Gheriani, a media organiser at the rebels' main headquarters at the court house in Benghazi.

"We're not going to negotiate with him. He knows where the airport is in Tripoli and all he needs to do is leave and stop the bloodshed."

"Why would you discuss any offers with this guy? He knows what the rules are and he has to leave and stop the bloodshed," said Gheriani.

Another rebel representative told AFP on condition of anonymity that a mediator approached the rebels' self-declared national council on Monday but that there would be "no talking" until Gaddafi leaves the country.

Last week, the self-proclaimed national council declared itself the sole representative of the country.