Monday, July 11, 2011

France urges Libyan sides to start talks

French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet

Source: Press TV

French defense minister has said NATO will stop airstrikes on Libya if the Libyan regime and revolutionary forces start negotiations.

"We have ... have asked them to speak to each other," Gerard Longuet was quoted by Reuters as saying on Sunday.

"We (NATO) will stop the bombardment as soon as Libyans speak to each other and the military from both sides go back to their barracks,” Longuet added.

The minister said the use of force by the Western military alliance has failed to solve the problem and this justifies the need to begin talks to resolve the deadlock.

After more than three months of bombardment by NATO warplanes, France seems to have changed its stance since the military alliance has not made any significant gains and Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi is still in power.

The Western powers have repeatedly said they will continue the air attacks to force Gaddafi to step down.

Longuet said talks between the fighting sides can begin even with Gaddafi still occupying a position in the Libyan regime “with another title,” but he reiterated that Gaddafi must leave power.

In reaction to Longuet's remarks, Washington has once again emphasized that Gaddafi must relinquish power.

"The Libyan people will be the ones to decide how this transition takes place, but we stand firm in our belief that Gaddafi cannot remain in power," US State Department said in a written reply to a query.

Opposition forces have emphasized that they will not hold talks with the regime unless Gaddafi quits power.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the Libyan ruler's son, said in an interview with an Algerian newspaper on Monday that negotiations between the Libyan regime and French government were underway.

"Our envoy to (Nicolas) Sarkozy said that the French president was very clear and told him 'We created the (rebel) council, and without our support, and money, and our weapons, the council would have never existed,'” Saif al-Islam was quoted as saying.

France has said it will pressure the Libyan opposition council to start talks with the regime as soon as Paris reaches an agreement with Tripoli, Gaddafi's son said.

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