EU seeks Libya interlocutors, even in Kadhafi regime

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The European Union is still looking for Libyan interlocutors, even within the ruling regime, ministers said Saturday, after the bloc dropped leader Moamer Kadhafi and France recognised an opposition council.

"No one is excluded apart from Kadhafi (from among the interlocutors)," Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt told journalists on the margins of an EU informal meeting in Godollo.

"We need to have contacts with all different sectors of the Libyan society," he added.

After France became the first country to recognise Libya's opposition as its rightful representatives, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe admitted there could be others.

"The Benghazi council is an essential partner... there can be other interlocutors," he said.

"We must see if in Tripoli in the current regime, there aren't potential interlocutors, although Kadhafi and his close circle must of course be excluded from this process," Juppe went on.

EU leaders agreed on Friday that Kadhafi was "no longer an interlocutor for the EU," while welcoming "the interim transitional national council based in Benghazi which it considers a political interlocutor," after an emergency summit in Brussels.

A day earlier, France was the first country to recognise the council.

EU ministers noted on Saturday however that it was still difficult to assess who might be a good dialogue partner.

"(There is) very little knowledge of which are the loyalties," Bildt noted, adding: "We need to have a more complete picture of how the Libyan society evolves."

His Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger meanwhile called for a fact-finding mission in Libya.

"It's really necessary to get more information from the ground, we don't know what is really happening in different parts of Libya today," he told journalists.

"There is a need to get a mission down to Libya, just to be well informed what is going on on the ground and who is really responsible to speak for the freedom fighters."

"This would help us to bring up the right measures."

An EU diplomat who asked not to be named confirmed that a fact-finding mission would leave for Benghazi "very quickly," either Sunday or Monday.

"Many (EU) member states have urged not to focus only on them (the council) and to see if there are others," who may become dialogue partners.

EU states had already established contacts with more moderate members of the administration in Tripoli, such as the envoys who went to Portugal and Greece this week and others involved in negotiations over three Dutch soldiers held by Libya, the diplomat said.

"We must see if we can continue to develop these kinds of contacts," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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