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UN: Libyan government and rebels far apart

UN: Libyan government and rebels far apart

The U.N. special envoy trying to get the Libyan government and rebels to agree on a cease-fire and political transition said Monday the gap between them is still wide and urged both sides to engage in direct talks.
Abdelilah Al-Khatib told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council behind closed doors that one of the key issues to be negotiated is agreement on an institutional body that would manage a transition.
"This would have to be all-inclusive and involve representatives from all political and social groups, as well as a wide range of factions, regions and tribes," he said.
Al-Khatib said he discussed these ideas with Libya's prime minister and foreign minister in Tripoli on Saturday, as well as with members of the rebels' National Transitional Council. He said both sides expressed readiness to examine the ideas.
"We need to end this conflict by finding a sustainable political solution that includes, of course, a cease-fire," Al-Khatib said. "This solution must fulfill the Libyan people's legitimate aspirations for a peaceful and democratic future."
Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the briefing was closed, said the major difference between the two sides is what comes first: The government is demanding a cease-fire followed by a political transition while the rebels insist on political change, including Moammar Gadhafi's departure, which they say would lead to a halt in the fighting, now entering its fifth month.
"Any arrangement to end the conflict should include arrangement for a cease-fire and arrangement for an acceptable transition by the Libyan people," Al-Khatib said. "This is why the two issues are linked and this is a process that may proceed on two legs, one political and one a cease-fire."
He said the U.N. is willing to help but it's up to the Libyan people to decide on the next steps. He urged the parties "to increase their focus on working towards a political solution."
"We would like to see indirect discussions evolve into direct discussions," Al-Khatib said.
The Libyan strongman's daughter, Aicha Gadhafi, said in a June 30 interview on France-2 TV that both direct and indirect negotiations are being held between her father's authorities and the rebels. She didn't elaborate.
France said Monday it is passing messages to Gadhafi's regime in liaison with the rebel movement and allies, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero insisted "There are not direct negotiations between France and Gadhafi's regime.
The Libyan rebels have also denied contacts with Gadhafi's people.
Al-Khatib, a Jordanian senator and former prime minister, called on the international community to remain united.
He said a meeting in Istanbul on Friday of the international contact group on Libya will be an opportunity to continue coordinating international action. The group includes more than 40 nations that are participating in or are backing the NATO mission supporting Gadhafi's opponents.
Al-Khatib said both the government and rebels had appealed to him in recent days to use frozen Libyan assets overseas to purchase food and medical supplies.
He said the Libyan government also complained that NATO's military actions and U.N. sanctions go beyond the Security Council's resolutions which authorized military action to protect civilians.


Updated : 2021-06-21 23:46 GMT+08:00