Libya rejects G8, open only to AU peace talks

The Libyan regime on Friday rejected calls from a summit of G8 world powers for strongman Muammar Gaddafi to stand down and said any initiative to resolve the crisis would have to go through the African Union.

“The G8 is an economic summit. We are not concerned by its decisions,” said Libya’s deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaaim, after Russia joined NATO calls for Gaddafi’s departure.

Tripoli also rejects Russian mediation and will “not accept any mediation which marginalises the peace plan of the African Union,” he said. “We are an African country. Any initiative outside the AU framework will be rejected.”

Kaaim said it had no confirmation of a change in Russia’s position.

“We have not been officially informed. We are in the process of contacting the Russian government to verify reports in the press,” the official told a press conference.

At the end of a two-day meeting in France, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States said Gaddafi and his government had “lost all legitimacy” and must go.

“Gaddafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go,” they warned in a final statement.

But Kaaim declared that “no one can dictate to Libyans their political future. All political decisions in the country only concern Libyans”.

In contrast, African leaders at a summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday called for an end to NATO air strikes on Libya to pave the way for a political solution to the conflict.

The pan-African bloc also sought a stronger say in resolving the conflict.

Kaaim meanwhile confirmed the visit on Monday of South African President Jacob Zuma, without indicating whether the exit of Gaddafi from power would be discussed as the South Africans have claimed.

On Wednesday South Africa announced Zuma’s plans to visit Tripoli and talk to Gaddafi.

Two sources in the presidency, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the talks would focus on Gaddafi’s “exit strategy”.

“The plan is to discuss an exit strategy with Muammar Gaddafi. We are working with the Turkish government,” one of the officials said. — AFP

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