Benghazi Rebels said on Monday Muammar Gaddafi’s entire family must leave before there can be a truce in Libya amid reports the regime is pursuing a ceasefire and his sons want to oversee a transition.
Rebel fighters made a new attempt to recapture Brega, advancing to the outskirts of the oil refinery town only to be forced back under artillery fire, as Gaddafi’s envoy arrived in Turkey for talks on a possible “roadmap.”
Former colonial power Italy announced it was joining France and Qatar in recognising the rebels’ Transitional National Council, and said it would send ships and planes to evacuate the wounded from besieged Misrata city.
After Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou held talks with Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelati Laabidi on the first leg of his mission, Athens said Gaddafi’s government was “looking for a solution.”
Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas later said he saw a chance for a diplomatic solution.
“There is mobility and there is a chance, albeit small, for a politico-diplomatic solution,” Droutsas told private Flash Radio.
The New York Times had reported that two of Gaddafi’s sons were offering to oversee a transition to a constitutional democracy that would include their father’s removal from power. But the rebels swiftly rejected any deal involving the Gaddafi family.
“Gaddafi and his sons have to leave before any diplomatic negotiations can take place,” the spokesman of the rebels’ Transitional National Council, Shamseddin Abdulmelah said.
He said the government had lost any right to talk of a negotiated exit after it continued to pound Misrata, 215km east of Tripoli.
“How can you negotiate at the point of a gun?” he asked, as Laabidi arrived in Ankara for talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Ahead of that meeting, Davutoglu said talks would revolve around a possible ceasefire with the opposition and a “roadmap” of political reform to end the turmoil in Libya. “We will do our best so that the suffering in Libya comes to an end in the shortest possible time and that a roadmap is outlined in a way that would include political changes in line with the demands of the Libyan people,” he said.
He said he spoke also to members of the opposition’s Transitional National Council, whom “we are going to host too in the coming days.”
“Both sides have told us that they have certain thoughts on a ceasefire. We will talk to the two sides and see whether there is any common ground,” a top Turkish foreign ministry official said.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, however, dismissed the diplomatic overtures concerning a ceasefire from Gaddafi.
He said the proposals were “not credible” after Rome recognised the rebel interim national council as its sole interlocutor.
UK said it was not pursuing “an exit strategy for Gaddafi” but a “genuine ceasefire.” “There have been lots of reports of envoys and of the regime reaching out in a number of ways… We have been very clear throughout about what the next step should be and that needs to be a genuine ceasefire and an end to violence,” a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the first meeting of the international contact group on Libya will take place next week in the Qatari capital Doha.
“This will take forward the work agreed at the London conference, maintain international unity and bring together a wide range of nations in support of a better future for Libya,” Hague told parliament. Agencies