Libyan gov't says ready for reform, but Gaddafi must remain leader

Libyan gov't says ready for reform, but Gaddafi must remain leader

A Libyan government spokesman said Monday the country is open to political reforms and elections, but Muammar Gaddafi must remain as the Libyan leader, Xinhua reported.

"We are ready for political solutions: constitution, election, anything, but the leader has to lead this forward," Mussa Ibrahim said.

The spokesman said the Libyan people, rather than other countries, must decide the country's future and whether the Libyan leader should stay or go.

He added no conditions could be imposed on Libya from abroad, even though the country was ready to negotiate proposals for changes and reform.

"Don't decide our future from abroad, give us a proposal for change from within," he said.

He accused some Western politicians of trying to force Gaddafi to step down out of personal gains or economic interests, and denied allegations that the government troops were involved in any attacks against civilians.

Meanwhile, the spokesman expressed regrets over Italy's decision to back the rebel forces.

Earlier on Monday, Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said his country has decided to recognize the legitimacy of the Interim Transitional National Council established by Libya's rebels.

"We have decided to recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council as the sole legitimate interlocutor for bilateral affairs with Libya," Frattini said.

Frattini would not rule out the possibility of delivering weapons to Libyan rebels as a "last-resort" option.

Also on Monday, acting Libyan Foreign Minister Abdulati Obeidi met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on a possible ceasefire.

"Today's meeting with the Libyan government official is very important. Turkey will continue to do its best to end the sufferings and to contribute to the process of making a road map including political demands of Libyan people," Davutoglu said.

He said Ankara was also in contact with the opposition Interim Transitional National Council, based in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, adding that opposition representatives were also expected in Ankara soon.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said both sides have told Ankara that they have certain opinions about a possible ceasefire.

"We will talk to both sides in order to understand whether there is any common ground," the official said.

Obeidi held talks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Athens on Sunday before traveling to Ankara.

While Turkey is seeking to broker a truce deal between the Libyan regime and the rebels, the continuing military action against the North African country has drawn growing concern from the international community.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy to Libya said Monday the conflict in the North African country appears to be continuing indefinitely.

"At this time, it is still very difficult to know how long it will take for the Libyan conflict to be resolved," Abdelilah Al-Khatib, Ban's special envoy for Libya, said.

Al-Khatib's statement came as he briefed the UN Security Council on his recent mission to Libya, where he met with both Gaddafi's government in Tripoli and the rebel Interim Transitional National Council.

NATO's daily report showed that its aircraft flew 154 sorties over Libya on Sunday.

According to the report, NATO planes took off 154 times and performed 58 "strike sorties" on Sunday, the fourth day since the alliance assumed full control over the military campaign against Libya.

In the first four days of the NATO mission, NATO aircraft have conducted a total of 701 sorties and 276 "strike sorties."

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