Italy warns against secret Libya negotiations

2011-07-15 13:04

Istanbul – Italy’s foreign minister said today that secret talks to end the Libyan conflict were counterproductive and insisted there could be no resolution while Muammar Gaddafi was in power.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the contact group on Libya, Franco Frattini said delegates would issue a statement stressing that a UN envoy was the only person who could speak on behalf of the international community.

“All the attempts to have secret, confidential mediation, discussion with a number of countries, because there were some contacts, those prove very counterproductive,” Frattini told reporters at the meeting in Istanbul.

His comments come after French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe acknowledged earlier this week that France had had “contacts” with the Libyan regime concerning the departure of Gaddafi but no real negotiations had taken place.

Frattini said the UN special envoy for Libya, Abdel Ilah al-Khatib, would be designated at the meeting as “the sole interlocuter” between the Gaddafi regime and the rebels, who are based in Benghazi.

“Mr Al-Khatib is entitled to present a political package including the ceasefire, and to negotiate with Tripoli and Benghazi to form a government of national unity,” he said.

Frattini again emphasised that Italy, Libya’s former colonial ruler, regarded Gaddafi’s departure as a prerequisite for any resolution to the four-month conflict.

“There is no other option but Gaddafi leaves. The question now is when and how,” he said.

Frattini also revealed that Italy had released a €100 million (R976 million) loan to the rebels by releasing a tranche of frozen Libyan funds, and that a further €300 million would be released in the same way in the next two weeks.

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