Russian Libya envoy to visit Tripoli

10th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The special envoy of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday he was preparing a visit to Tripoli, after which he would offer a preliminary "roadmap" for settling the conflict in Libya.

"I am now involved in preparations for a Tripoli trip," Mikhail Margelov said after returning from his trip to the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and Egypt.

"We will be ready to offer some kind of contours of a 'roadmap' for settling the Libya conflict after my trip to Tripoli. The process of acknowledging positions and accumulating material is now continuing."

Margelov said he could not give a specific date for his next visit as Russia was waiting for NATO to arrange a transport corridor so that the visit could go ahead in full security.

"It is absolutely obvious that there remains a window of opportunity to hold talks between conflicting sides," he said. "This is the start of a big process and actually a constructive start, in my opinion."

Margelov said that in Tripoli he would seek to hold talks with the Libyan prime minister and foreign minister, adding that he was ready to also meet with Moamer Kadhafi himself but so far Medvedev has not given him any orders to do so.

Margelov said Libya's rebels pledged they would honour all business contracts that Russia and other countries had signed with the Kadhafi regime before the war.

"This is a very important and very significant statement," he said.

Moscow has repeatedly called on the West, which is involved in the bombing campaign against Kadhafi's forces, to immediately stop hostilities.

In March, Russia abstained from the UN Security Council resolution on Libya that essentially authorised military action. Medvedev later complained that the West exceeded its UN mandate and abused Russia's goodwill.

At the Group of Eight meeting at the French seaside resort of Deauville last month the Kremlin hijacked the summit's official agenda by offering to mediate in Libya.

Officials said US President Barack Obama talked with Medvedev about his staying in touch with the Libyan regime, and France's Nicolas Sarkozy also told reporters that the West needed Medvedev's help.

"G8 leaders realised that international politics does not work without glitches. So they turned to an experienced mechanic," Margelov said, referring to the Russian president.

"Russia can help build a bridge between the two banks," he said, referring to Tripoli and Benghazi. "Our task is to start sewing back together the torn fabric of the Libyan political elite."

Russia has repeatedly said it is well-placed to mediate given Moscow still had diplomatic ties with Tripoli and has now established contacts with Benghazi.

Margelov reiterated Moscow's call for Kadhafi to stand down, saying he needed to take a "responsible, courageous decision about his future."

He noted it was inappropriate to speak of any "threat of dismemberment" for Libya, adding that Benghazi did not look like a city at war, with stores full with fruit, vegetables and meat, albeit at exorbitant prices.

Margelov said he was set to meet with US ambassador John Beyrle later in the day. "We'll talk about Libya," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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