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Libya rebels deny talks with Gaddafi government

Libya`s rebels` chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil denied any back-channel communications with Gaddafi.



Benghazi: Libya`s rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) is not holding any talks with Muammar Gaddafi`s government or with the UN special envoy for Libya to resolve the civil war, the council`s head said on Tuesday.

"The NTC would like to assure that there are no negotiations either direct or indirect with the Gaddafi regime or with the special envoy of the United Nations," NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said at a briefing where he spoke through an interpreter.

Asked about reports of secret negotiations at the weekend on the Tunisian resort island of Djerba, Mustafa Abdel Jalil denied any back-channel communications with Gaddafi.

"I would like to affirm that the NTC has no knowledge and no backing of these talks ... Any political consultations or contacts should be done through or with the council," he said.

The NTC has consistently denied any bid to broker a compromise deal with the Libyan leader, insisting that after 41 years in power he must simply quit and leave or be ousted by force.

A Gaddafi government spokesman also denied negotiating with the rebel leadership.

The U.N. special envoy trying to find a way to end the conflict in Libya, Abdel Elah al-Khatib, was scheduled to meet senior Tunisian representatives on Monday.

A foreign ministry spokesman in Tunis on Sunday said he would also "certainly ... meet the Libyan parties."

Khatib has met on several occasions with representatives of Gaddafi and the rebels. His visit to the region was his first since rebel advances cut Tripoli off from its supply route to Tunisia, shifting momentum in the rebels` favor.

Reports of secret talks in Djerba coincided with the apparent defection of a senior figure in Gaddafi`s security apparatus, who flew from Djerba to Cairo with his family on Monday.

At about the same time, rebel forces in the Western Mountains reported significant breakthroughs in the six-month-old conflict, taking the strategic city of Zawiyah on the coast and securing the key crossroads town of Garyan in the desert south of Tripoli.

The advances buoyed the rebel movement and prompted analysts to speculate that the noose is tightening around Gaddafi`s stronghold in the Libyan capital and that his days in power may be numbered.

Bureau Report

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