France’s Foreign Minister said on Tuesday Paris has had contact with emissaries from Muammar Qadhafi who say the embattled Libyan strongman is “prepared to leave.”
Alain Juppe said that while the contacts do not constitute proper negotiations, “everyone (involved in Libya’s civil war) has contacts with everyone else. The Libyan regime sends its messengers all over, to Turkey, to New York, to Paris.
“We receive emissaries who are saying, ‘Qadhafi is prepared to leave. Let’s discuss it.’”
France was instrumental in launching the NATO-led operation of air strikes against Col. Qadhafi’s forces, in a U.N.-mandated mission to protect civilians resisting his four-decade regime.
NATO flew more than 100 sorties on Monday and hit several key targets in western Libya, including a military storage facility, three military facilities and seven military vehicles, according to an operational report issued on Tuesday.
French officials have insisted that Col. Qadhafi’s giving up power is key to ending the hostilities, which began in mid-March, and Mr. Juppe said that more and more countries are now in agreement on that point.
“There is a consensus on how to end the crisis, which is that Qadhafi has to leave power,” Mr. Juppe said. “That (consensus) was absolutely not a given two or three months ago.
“The question is no longer whether Qadhafi is going to leave power, but when and how,” he added.
The French Parliament is due to vote later on Tuesday on whether to continue French participation in the operations in Libya.
French law requires parliamentary approval for all military campaigns lasting more than four months. The Libya operation has wide support among lawmakers from both the governing conservative party and among the opposition Socialists, and the vote is expected to pass with a broad majority.
Mr. Juppe insisted the operation was helping shape the situation on the ground in Libya.
“Contrary to what we might hear, things are evolving in Libya,” both from a strategic and political perspective, he said. Hindu