SAfrica's Zuma plans Kadhafi 'exit strategy' talks in Libya

25th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

South African President Jacob Zuma will visit Tripoli next week, his office said Wednesday, for talks that officials told AFP would focus on an "exit strategy" for Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

"President Zuma will stop over in Tripoli for a discussion with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on May 30," the presidency said in a statement.

Two sources in the presidency, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the talks would focus on Kadhafi's "exit strategy".

"The purpose is to discuss an exit strategy for Kadhafi. The meeting is still very much in the planning stages," one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A second official told AFP that South Africa was working with Turkey on the exit plan.

"The plan is to discuss an exit strategy with Moamer Kadhafi. We are working with the Turkish government," the official said.

Zuma's spokesman Zizi Kodwa insisted that discussion of an exit strategy was "misleading," saying the visit was taking place within African Union efforts for Libya to adopt "the political reforms necessary for the elimination of the causes of the current crisis."

Turkey last month proposed a "roadmap" to end the Libyan turmoil, with a plan that called for the removal of Kadhafi to open the way for a comprehensive political transition.

A Turkish foreign ministry official said the country was ready to help any initiative to end Libya's turmoil, but has had no contact so far with South Africa's leader on an exit strategy for Kadhafi.

"We have had no particular dialogue (with South Africa) so far, but it does not mean that we will not have any in the future," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"Turkey has announced a roadmap and submitted it to the international community, including the African Union. We are ready to contribute to any peace initiative" for Libya, he said.

South Africa's new diplomatic push came as NATO jets blasted Libya's capital, with the alliance saying it was shifting into high gear in a bid to deliver a decisive blow to Kadhafi's government.

Zuma visited Tripoli on April 10 as part of a high-ranking African Union delegation to broker a truce between Kadhafi and rebels, but a peace plan fell through when the rebels insisted the strongman step down.

South Africa voted for the UN resolution authorising the no-fly zone over Libya, but has since criticised NATO's bombing campaign in the country and said that it does not support regime change in Tripoli.

At the same time, South Africa has condemned attacks on civilians by Kadhafi forces, with Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane denouncing the Libyan leader's "heinous violation of human rights against his own people."

On Friday the minister accused Kadhafi of lying to South Africa about the fate of Anton Hammerl, an Austrian-South African photographer.

Hammerl was shot dead by Kadhafi forces six weeks earlier, despite repeated assurances from the Libyan leader that he was alive.

© 2011 AFP

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