US cautious over reports of Kadhafi contacts
The United States reacted cautiously Tuesday to news of indirect contacts between France and Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi's regime saying there have been "contradictory messages."
"I think that we are seeing the same thing that some of our Western partners are seeing," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
"We have a lot of folks claiming to be representatives of Kadhafi one way or the other, reaching out to lots of other folks in the West... but the messages are contradictory."
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Tuesday there had been contacts with Kadhafi's regime and that the veteran Libyan was ready to step down after four decades at the helm of the north African nation.
"There have indeed been contacts, but it has not turned into a real negotiation," Juppe told France Info radio. "The Libyan regime is sending messengers everywhere: to Turkey, New York, Paris.
"We are meeting envoys who say to us: look, 'Kadhafi is ready to go, let's talk about it'," he added.
Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi told the French daily Le Figaro the Kadhafi would not take part in the discussions.
"We are ready to negotiate unconditionally," he added, although he called on NATO to halt the air strikes. "We simply want a stop to the bombardments so that one can talk in a serene atmosphere. We cannot talk as bombs rain down."
Mahmud Shammam, spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC) fighting since February to oust Kadhafi, told AFP the rebels would only respond to "serious initiatives" that include the departure of Kadhafi and his sons.
Nuland warned: "The TNC remains to have a clear-cut message that Kadhafi is prepared to understand, that it's time for him to go.
"Unless and until we are sure that the conditions of (UN resolution) 1973 can be met and that he understands that it's time for him to step down, we don't have a solution."
© 2011 AFP