Tripoli says ready to implement AU roadmap

Triploi demands a halt to the Western-led coalition`s military intervention.

Addis Ababa: Muammar Gaddafi`s delegation to African Union talks on Friday said Tripoli is ready to implement an AU roadmap to resolve the Libyan crisis, while also demanding a halt to the Western-led coalition`s military intervention.

"We are ready to implement the Road Map envisaged ... (by) the High-Level Committee mandated by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union," said a statement from the delegation headed by Mohammed al-Zwai, secretary general of the General People`s Congress.

The AU roadmap calls for an immediate end to all hostilities, "cooperation on the part of the relevant Libyan authorities to facilitate humanitarian aid," and "protection for all foreign nationals, including African migrant workers."

The five-member team from Tripoli turned up for the talks, which were also attended by EU, UN and Arab League representatives, following an invitation from AU Commission chairman Jean Ping.

The Libyan opposition however did not take up the invitation.

Gaddafi`s delegation called on the international community to oblige the "other parties" in the conflict to respect a ceasefire, its statement said.

"Libya is committed to a ceasefire and the international community should impose the same obligation to (the) other parties," the delegation said.

It also demanded "the cessation of the air bombardment and the naval blockade carried out by Western forces and the United States", arguing that these measures were having the opposite effect from what the UN intended as it claimed they were killing civilians "by the hundred" rather than protecting them.

It further asked for the lifting of the economic embargo.

"What is happening in Libya is strictly an African problem which should be dealt with solely by the African Union. With the help of the AU and under (its) auspices, the Libyans are capable of resolving their problems peacefully," the Gaddafi delegation said.

Ping said on Friday the AU, which is opposed to foreign military intervention, wants to "facilitate dialogue between the Libyan parties" and that it favours putting in place an "inclusive transition period that will lead to the elections of democratic institutions”.

Admitting that differences of opinion and in approach exist within the international community, he said: "We at AU level are convinced that there is sufficient common ground to reach a consensus and make a useful contribution to finding a lasting solution in Libya."

The AU chief described the situation in Libya as "extremely serious, both for Libya itself and for the region as a whole."

Ping returned early Friday from Europe after meeting with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and an envoy sent by the EU`s chief diplomat Catherine Ashton.

"The situation in Libya was top of the agenda at both meetings," Ping`s spokesman Noureddine Mezni said.

Ping in Paris expressed frustration with the Western-led coalition`s campaign in Libya. "When I ask: what is the next stage? Do you have a road map? I see they do not," he said on Thursday.

Friday`s gathering in Addis Ababa followed a meeting of the AU ad-hoc committee on Libya in the Mauritanian capital last week.

Nick Westcott, Africa advisor to Ashton, attended the talks.

The countries whose presidents sit on the AU ad-hoc committee -- South Africa, Republic of Congo, Mauritania, Mali and Uganda -- are represented by their respective foreign affairs ministers.

The AU committee, made up of five heads of state, last Sunday called for an "immediate stop" to all hostilities the day after an international coalition launched air raids against Gaddafi`s forces following a UN Security Council resolution aimed at protecting Libyan civilians.

"The longer the conflict drags on, the greater the risks -- whence the urgency of the search for a lasting solution to the crisis," Ping said.

Bureau Report