Libya now willing to talk with rebels
Urges cease-fire, but says Khadafy wont step down
TRIPOLI, Libya — Libya’s government pushed a cease-fire proposal yesterday and said for the first time it was prepared to speak with its rebel adversaries, signaling that months of fighting and NATO bombardment may be closer to forcing concessions.
Even so, the government insisted Moammar Khadafy would not relinquish power, which he has held for more than 40 years. His departure is a key demand of the United States, European leaders, and the rebels, who say that after more than three months of fighting they will not consider halting their efforts until Khadafy goes.
“The leader, Moammar Khadafy, is in the heart of every Libyan. If he leaves, the entire Libyan people leave,’’ said Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.
Khadafy has responded to intensified NATO bombing of the Libyan capital by seeking sanctuary at night in hospitals he knows will not be bombed, according to a British official accompanying Prime Minister David Cameron to a summit meeting in Deauville, France.
The official’s account of Khadafy’s movements, given on a background basis to British reporters, was quoted in today’s editions of at least two British newspapers, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. It was the first acknowledgment by a senior Western official that NATO planners had access to intelligence about Khadafy’s movements.
Mahmoudi told reporters in the Libyan capital yesterday that he was willing to hold talks with “all Libyans,’’ including members of the rebel administration based in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Officials from Khadafy’s regime had in the past insisted that they would not speak to the rebel government, arguing that it did not represent Libyans.
Also yesterday, three rebel fighters were killed and 20 others wounded in clashes with government forces near the western city of Misurata, said Dr. Mustafa Taha from the city’s central Hikma Hospital. It was unclear whether any government soldiers died in the clash, about 14 miles west of the city, the only one under rebel control near Tripoli.
Late yesterday, at least five explosions were heard in Tripoli from NATO airstrikes. The targets were not immediately identified.
In a separate development, an international advocacy group made public a document showing that Khadafy has stashed billions of dollars of Libyan oil revenue with financial institutions on Wall Street and in Europe, the International Herald Tribune reported.
The document, published yesterday on the Web by Global Witness, listed
The document, independently verified as authentic, is a summary of the Libyan Investment Authority’s holdings, created for the fund by the London office of the consulting firm KPMG and dated June 30, 2010.
Material from the New York Times was used in this report.