Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi is ready to give up power in exchange for a security guarantee, a Russian newspaper reported Tuesday.
The daily Kommersant quoted a “high-level” source saying Qadhafi, the world’s longest-serving dictator, would be willing to relinquish control to his son, a compromise not likely to be acceptable to the NATO-backed rebels who are seeking to remove the family from power.
But a Qadhafi spokesman told Reuters that talks with the rebel opposition were about negotiating a ceasefire to the five-month conflict, not ceding power.
“Qadhafi is not negotiable, this is our position of principle, and the future of Libya will be decided by Libyans. Qadhafi is a historical symbol, and Libyans will die to defend him,” Moussa Ibrahim said.
The rebels on Monday stood equally firm about Qadhafi relinquishing power.
“There is absolutely no current or future possibility for Qaddafi to remain in Libya,” council head Mustafa Abdul Jalil told Bloomberg News Monday. “There is no escape clause for Qaddafi - he must be removed from power and face justice.”
Qadhafi, his son, Seif al-Islam Qadhafi, and intelligence chief Abdullah al Senussi are wanted by the International Criminal Court on suspicion of murder. Qaddafi last week warned he would attack in Europe if the NATO-led air war on his country continued.
Ibrahim’s denial comes after the government revealed Monday that it spoke with rebel officials in Italy, Egypt and Norway in an effort to stop fighting in the North African country, which began five months ago.
“The talks were about a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and the start of a dialogue between Libyans, and then the fourth stage which is a transition period over the political change that will be decided by Libyans,” Ibrahim said.
Qadhafi’s government said the talks were witnessed by each host country, but Italy said no talks took place there. Ibrahim said Italy is lying.
“There have been several meetings in Rome and these are genuine talks and a member of the Italian government attended the meetings,” he said.
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