NATO hits Gaddafi compound, diplomacy heats up
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Last Updated: Friday, June 17, 2011, 10:10
  
Tripoli: Hours after NATO airstrikes pounded the area near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's compound again before dawn on Friday, Russia's envoy to Libya turned up at a bombing site while on a visit to Tripoli for talks on ending the civil war.

Italy's foreign minister, meanwhile, said his government was calling together tribal leaders from all parts of Libya for a meeting to promote reconciliation.

Franco Frattini said today up to 300 people representing all of Libya's regions will attend the meeting. He did not give a date. The ANSA news agency said the meeting might take place next week.

And one of Gaddafi's sons told an Italian newspaper that his father would not seek exile outside Libya but that elections under International supervision could offer a way out. A vote could be organized within 3 months, he said.

The son, Saif al-Islam, told Corriere della Sera that Gaddafi would step aside if he lost, which the son said was unlikely. He acknowledged, however, that "my father's regime as it developed since 1969 is dead." The son said he envisions a federal state with strong local autonomy and a weak central government in Tripoli.

In Moscow, the ITAR-Tass news agency said envoy Mikhail Margelov had met in Tripoli with Foreign Minister Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi and planned a session with Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi. Reporters taken to a bombing site it was not clear if it was the location hit early today saw Margelov there, in the company of government officials.

Last week, Margelov visited the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and said that Gaddafi has lost his legitimacy. However, Margelov also said NATO airstrikes are not a solution to Libya's violent stalemate.

The Interfax agency quoted Margelov as saying, after meeting the foreign minister, that he was told "Gaddafi is not prepared to leave, and the Libyan leadership will talk about the country's future only after a cease-fire." The foreign minister also said, according to Margelov, that the African Union should be "the main force" in reaching a resolution.

In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland rejected the idea of elections in Libya. "It's a little late for any proposals by Gaddafi and his circles for democratic change," she said today.

"It's time for him to go."

The latest NATO strike on Gaddafi's compound rattled windows across the heart of the capital, producing thunderous concussions and smoke billowing into the air.

It was not clear what was hit, and there was no word on casualties. Government officials did not immediately comment on the strike.

PTI


First Published: Friday, June 17, 2011, 10:10


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