Qaddafi govt, opposition stick to their guns

TRIPOLI: The Libyan government said on Monday it was in talks with opposition figures but there seemed little chance of a swift end to the conflict as both sides stuck to entrenched positions on the fate of Muammar Qaddafi.The leader’s son Saif Al-Islam, in combative form, told a French newspaper there was no question of negotiating an end to his father’s 42-year rule, while the fighters, stepping back from a hint of a concession, renewed their demand that he go now.A spokesman for Qaddafi’s administration said high-ranking government officials had been in foreign-mediated talks in Italy, Egypt and Norway with opposition figures to try to find a peace deal, and that talks were still going on.The government spokesman named one of the opposition figures in the talks as Abdel Fattah Younes Al-Abidi, Qaddafi’s former security minister, who defected in February. It was not clear whether the talks took place with the knowledge or endorsement of the leadership of the National Transitional Council.”In the last few weeks and in several world capitals, high-ranking Libyan government officials have met with members of the Libyan opposition to negotiate peaceful ways out of the Libyan crisis,” the government spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

“Other direct negotiations still take place as of now.”Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi, one of the most prominent of the leader’s sons, dismissed suggestions that there could be a peace settlement that removed his father — a demand not only of the fighters but of Western powers who have bombed Libya since March.”My father is not part of the negotiations,” Saif Al-Islam told Le Monde newspaper. “You think one can find a solution that does not involve him? No, it’s impossible.” By backing the fighters, NATO had picked the losing side, he added: “God is with us. We will fight and we will win.

We have our army. We have more munitions, more weapons. Morale is high. The others are becoming weaker and weaker.”Libya was the focus of talks in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, where President Dmitry Medvedev met both the secretary general of NATO and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma.Russia has voiced concern that NATO’s campaign risks going beyond the terms of a United Nations resolution.”We look at Libya’s future practically identically, and everyone would like Libya to be a modern state, naturally, and a sovereign and democratic state,” Medvedev said at a meeting with NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen. – Arabnews