Turkey says it offered Gaddafi 'guarantee' to quit Libya

Ankara says it received no reply from Libyan leader; US official says NATO is willing use "deadly" force if it will remove Libyan leader from office.

By REUTERS
June 10, 2011 19:28
2 minute read.
Muammar Gaddafi in a live broadcast on state tv

Muammar Gaddafi 520. (photo credit: Reuters)

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday his country had offered a "guarantee" to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi if he left Libya, but said Ankara had received no answer.

"Gaddafi has no way out but to leave Libya, through the guarantees given to him, it seems," Erdogan told NTV broadcaster in an interview.

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"We ourselves have offered him this guarantee, via the representatives we've sent. We told him we would help him to be sent wherever he wanted to be sent. We would discuss the issue with our allies, according to the response we receive. Unfortunately we still haven't got a response from Gaddafi."

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Erdogan, whose country is a member of NATO, did not specify what kind of guarantee his country had offered to Gaddafi.

The Turkish prime minister's offer came as the United States and its NATO allies are stepping up military operations against Muammar Gaddafi, hoping for a final "squeeze" to drive him from power -- or possibly kill him -- a senior US official said on Friday.

The comments, made on condition of anonymity, follow days of some of the heaviest bombing of the three-month-old war and indicated a shift in Washington, which has previously spoken of a stalemate and has fought shy of making Gaddafi a target.

The United States is still officially abiding by a UN mandate which formally limits NATO to protecting civilians.

The allies have said repeatedly that the 69-year-old leader must make way for a new, democratic administration but have insisted that killing him is not the object of their bombing.



The US official said, however, that "no one would shed a tear" if Gaddafi were to die in one of the many attacks, some with bunker-busting bombs, on facilities across Libya.

"Everyone ... wants Gaddafi to go," the official said, explaining why NATO forces have been conducting a "major effort against (Gaddafi's) command and control facilities".

US officials say they believe the conflict is nearing an "end-game" -- a phrase notably employed by an official traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a meeting of the allies in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

After that meeting, Australia's foreign minister forecast that Gaddafi's ousting "may come sooner" than many had expected.

Previously, US officials had assessed the Libyan conflict as an indefinite stalemate, due to the relatively strong capabilities of government forces when compared to rebel forces whose capabilities have been regarded as minimal to dire.


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