'Libyan envoy visits London for secret talks with UK'

'Guardian' report says confidential visit one of many such contacts between Libyan officials and West in last 2 weeks.

March 31, 2011 23:24
2 minute read.
Victory sign in Libya

Libya peace victory sign 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A senior aide to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son visited London in recent days for secret talks with British officials, the Guardian reported on Thursday.

The contact with Saif al-Islam's aide, Mohammed Ismail, was just one of several such visits between Libyan officials and the West in the past two weeks, a sign that the regime may be looking for a way to end the conflict in the country, according to the report.

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"There has been increasing evidence recently that the sons want a way out," the Guardian quoted a western diplomatic source as saying.

The report quoted a British Foreign Office Spokesman as saying that Ismail was told "[Muammar] Gaddafi has to go and there will be accountability for crimes committed at the international criminal court."

Muammar Gaddafi, meanwhile,  warned the Western powers mounting air strikes on his country they had unleashed a war between Christians and Muslims that could spiral out of control.

Western states intervened in Libya after the United Nations authorized them to protect civilians it said were under attack by pro-Gaddafi forces, but Tripoli says the military intervention in an act of unwarranted aggression.

"If they continue, the world will enter into a real crusader war. They have started something dangerous that cannot be controlled and it will become out of their control," said a text from Gaddafi, read out on state television.

"The leaders who decided to launch a crusader war between Christians and Muslims across the Mediterranean and who ... killed... huge numbers of civilians in Libya, they have been made crazy by power and they want to impose the law of strength on the strength of the law," it said.

"They have also destroyed the shared interests of their people and the Libyan people and undermined peace and wiped out civilians and they want to return us to the Middle Ages," Gaddafi was quoted as saying.

Gaddafi gave regular televised speeches in the first days of the conflict but he has not been seen in public for several days. Officials say he has been forced to change his routine after an air strike hit the heavily-guarded compound in Tripoli where he has his main residence.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that the western coalition's mission is not to remove Gaddafi but that he will likely be removed from power by his own people over time.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen joined Gates in addressing the US Congress, saying that Gaddafi's military capabilities were diminished but he was not close to a military breaking point.

The UK government on Thursday reported that about 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of Gaddafi thus far.

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