Political efforts intensify over Libya crisis

15:26, April 09, 2011      

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International efforts are gaining momentum to seek a political solution to the ongoing crisis in violence-torn Libya.

A group of African leaders are expected to visit Libya over the weekend on behalf of the African Union (AU) to mediate an immediate ceasefire between Libya's government troops and the rebel forces, the South African foreign ministry said Friday.

During their stay in the violence-torn country, South African President Jacob Zuma and leaders of several other African countries will meet with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli and with rebel leaders in the eastern city of Benghazi, according to the ministry.

"Key on the agenda of both meetings will be the immediate implementation of a ceasefire from both sides and the opening of a political dialogue between the two parties," the ministry said.

The high-level AU envoys will first meet in Mauritania on Saturday before they travel to Libya, it said, adding that NATO, which is implementing a UN-endorsed no-fly zone over Libya, has given the mediators the green light.

The AU panel originally planned to visit Libya last month, but had to reschedule the trip after failing to obtain permission from a multinational coalition that was militarily intervening in the Libya crisis.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to Egypt to chair a meeting on Thursday over the situation in Libya, his spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters Friday.

"In an effort to coordinate the international response on Libya, the secretary-general will chair a meeting of concerned international and regional organizations to be held at the League of Arab States headquarters in Cairo on Thursday, the 14th of April," he said.

"The objective of the meeting will be to exchange views and enhance coordination among the participating organizations in addressing the current crisis in Libya," he added.

Among the attendants will be Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the League of Arab States; Jean Ping, chairman of the Commission of the African Union (AU); Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief.

In addition, B. Lynn Pascoe, UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, and Abdelilah Al-Khatib, Ban's special envoy for Libya, will travel to Qatar next week to represent the UN at the first meeting of an international contact group over the Libya crisis, Nesirky said.

The contact group, established at an international conference on Libya held late last month in London, is aimed at providing political direction for Libya's future.

Also on Friday, Russia repeated its call for a ceasefire and a political solution to the Libya crisis.

"It is obvious that the Libyan problem cannot be resolved by armed forces," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that relevant parties "need to find a basis to promote national reconciliation, in consideration of true interests and aspirations of the Libyan people."

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu also said Friday that there was "no purely military solution" to the Libyan crisis and that "it is important to find a political solution."

Brushing away the allegation that a military stalemate has emerged in Libya, Lungescu said, "There is no stalemate. Just on the contrary, there is a clear drive from the international community to urgently find a political solution to this conflict."

Besides, the Italian foreign ministry said Friday that Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil is due to visit Rome next week in his first visit abroad as chairman of the Transitional National Council (TNC) of Libya.

Clashes between Libyan government troops and rebel forces continued Friday in the coastal city of Misrata. The rebels said that they repulsed an attack by the government troops on the eastern flank of the city.

In what apparently was the second friendly fire accident between NATO and the Libyan rebels, NATO aircraft bombed a rebel tank column and caused a number of deaths, the alliance confirmed Friday.

Following the mistake, Libyan rebels painted the roofs of their vehicles bright pink to avoid more friendly fire casualties.

Source: Xinhua
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