Gaddafi's PM calls for end to NATO bombings
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In an interview with FRANCE 24, Muammar Gaddafi's Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi (pictured) said NATO’s bombing campaign must end before negotiations with rebels can begin.
Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi said on Sunday that negotiations to end the war between his government and Libyan rebels were not possible under NATO’s current bombing campaign, once more defending the role played by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as the country’s “guide”.
“[Gaddafi] in fact symbolises this Libyan state, […] he himself is encouraging the search for a solution,” Mahmoudi told FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview in Tripoli. Mahmoudi rejected the idea that Gaddafi had to step aside for negotiations to move ahead, or that Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council (TNC) would lead talks exclusively.
The prime minister also dismissed the so-called Contact Group on Libya as a partner in talks, calling it illegal. The contact group – which includes, the United States, the European Union and the Arab League – declared on Friday that it formally recognized the TNC as the country’s legitimate authority.
During the interview, Mahmoudi insisted that Paris and Tripoli had held diplomatic meetings, a claim denied by French authorities, and said he was encouraged to see that France was distancing itself from the contact group. “We want to have a cordial relationship with France,” Mahmoudi said. “It’s time to open a new chapter in relations.”
France was the first country to recognise the TNC as the legitimate government in Libya and has been actively supporting anti-Gaddafi rebels. But the French government has recently urged rebel authorities to sit down for talks with the regime in Tripoli, saying it was time for a “diplomatic solution” to the conflict.