NATO hits Gaddafi compound, diplomacy heats up

Russia`s envoy to Libya turned up at a bombing site while on a visit to Tripoli for talks on ending the civil war.

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.


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