Kremlin envoy: Gaddafi ready for talks with Libyan opposition, NATO
A former Russia politician who visited Tripoli this weekend said on Tuesday that Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi is "absolutely ready" for talks with the country's opposition and with NATO, DPA reported.
"Moamer Gaddafi is ready without any preconditions to begin talks with NATO's leadership and representatives of the insurgency in Benghazi," said Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, former president of Russia's Kalmykia republic and the current head of the International Chess Federation.
"Moamer Gaddafi told me this during our (Sunday) meeting in Tripoli," Ilyumzhinov said at a news conference reported by the Interfax news agency.
During his weekend trip to Tripoli, the Russian politician played Gaddafi at a game of chess, which ended in a draw.
Ilyuzhinmov said Gaddafi rejected a suggestion he leave Libya and go into exile, as has been proposed by Libyan rebels, NATO leaders and Turkey as a way of ending the conflict in the northern African country.
"(Gaddafi) told me, 'I can't understand what (NATO and the Libyan insurgents) want. They want me to leave the country. But who will replace me? What kind of country will we have?'" Ilyumzhinov said.
The Kremlin was aware of Ilyumzhinov's mediation attempt during which he gave Gadaffi "Russia's view on ending the conflict (in Libya)," said Sergei Prikhodko, a spokesman of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Russia has repeatedly called for an end to NATO's aerial bombardment of forces and ground installations controlled by Gaddafi, calling the air raids a violation of a UN resolution allowing use of force to protect Libya's civilian population.
NATO has taken sides in the Libyan civil war, and its air attacks are deadly to the Libyan civilians the alliance is supposed to be protecting, Ilyumzhinov said.
"Remote-control aircraft are constantly flying overhead, they are bombing the city Tripoli," he said. "I saw a ruined building, it was a hospital. Next to it was parliament, but the NATO aircraft missed ... there are many places like that."
Ilyumzhinov is well-known in Russia for his 1993-2010 leadership of Kalmykia, where he made chess the official sport.