Russia says Gaddafi must go, ready to mediate

DEAUVILLE, France – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called on Muammar Gaddafi to give up power and said that Russia would not give shelter to the Libyan leader but other countries might.\r\n

Medvedev said he had sent an envoy to the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Friday as part of efforts to resolve the conflict. He said he hoped the envoy would have the opportunity to speak with both sides.

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Earlier, Russia had said it is ready to mediate in the Libyan crisis following a request from its partners in the Group of Eight, a senior Russian official told reporters at the G8 summit in northern France on Friday.

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“If the respectful tone that Russia maintains in its dialogue with the Libyan authorities would help Mr Gaddafi take the right decision, I think this will become our serious and significant contribution to the resolution of the grave and potentially even more dangerous situation for Libya and the region,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. 

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He also said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had lost all legitimacy and should step down: “Colonel Gaddafi has deprived himself of legitimacy with his actions, we should help him leave. There are no disagreements about that with G8 partners, although the tone may differ.”

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A aide to President Dmitry Medvedev told reporters later that Russia had partners in the Libyan leader’s entourage with whom it could negotiate his departure.

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Other G8 officials have said they are unsure what role Moscow might play in Libya.

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European diplomats said there were signs that Russian officials were apparently in contact with Libyans, but it was unclear to Western governments what that involved.

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The African Union extraordinary summit on Libya on Thursday called for an immediate ceasefire on the bombardment of the oil-rich North African country.

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The African Union chairman, Theodore Obinag Nguema Mbasogo, said there is urgent need for a political solution to the Libyan crisis and the Western forces should respect the AU’s decision as the adopted roadmap for Libya remains relevant.

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Theodore Obinag Nguema Mbasogo is also attending the G8 Summit in France, and sources said he was tasked by some African leaders to lobby of the cessation of bombardments in Libya.

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According to the communiqué released at the end of the summit, the Peace and Security Commission was directed to consider the deployment of an AU observer mission to monitor the situation in Libya ahead of the establishment of a larger international mission that would involve the AU, the UN and the League of Arab States, while the warring parties were urged to fully cooperate with the mediators.

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