Gaddafi endorses Chavez negotiation plan as violence continues

Gaddafi endorses Chavez negotiation plan as violence continues

Embattled Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi has endorsed a plan by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for mediated talks with opposition forces in the country, according to media reports Thursday.

Chavez's plan would see an international peace commission head to Libya to negotiate between Gaddafi and opposition groups, DPA reported.

But the National Libyan Council, which seeks to give a political face to the anti-Gaddafi uprising, has already rejected it.

Meanwhile, fresh strikes by Gaddafi's air force were reported in the eastern city of al-Burayqa, a day after airstrikes killed at least 20 people there.

Gaddafi has been using airstrikes in an attempt to retake control of cities from protesters in the east, leading to growing calls for a no-fly zone over the country.

The National Libyan Council has called for a no-fly zone over the country as well as United Nations-endorsed airstrikes to target foreign mercenaries allegedly hired by Gaddafi to attack protesters.

"We call for specific attacks on the strongholds of these mercenaries," spokesperson Hafiz Ghoga said in a press conference in the eastern city of Benghazi late on Wednesday.

"The presence of any foreign forces on Libyan soil is strongly opposed, and there is a big difference between this and strategic air strikes," Ghoga added.

In an interview with television network Al Arabiya, Ghoga also said he rejected Chavez's mediating efforts.

Meanwhile the Arab League, which opposes military intervention in Libya, has said it could coordinate with the African Union to apply a no-fly zone over the country.

The Arab League is expected to take a decision on whether to endorse Chavez's plan later on Thursday.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton rejected suggestions by senators that the US should move quickly to support a no-fly zone over Libya, noting the uncertainty about "who is legitimate, who is not" and saying it was premature "to recognize one group or another."

While US officials say no options have been taken off the table, top defence officials have said enforcing a no-fly zone similar to the one in place over Iraq in the 1990s would be extremely complex and difficult.

Violence has been ongoing in Libya since February 15, when widespread protests demanding Gaddafi's departure began.

Gaddafi's brutal crackdown on the demonstrations has led to international condemnation and sanctions on his regime.

In recent days, his security forces have escalated their attacks in the eastern part of the country, which is now under the control of protesters.

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