Russia says G8 partners urged it to mediate Libya conflict

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Russia's G8 partners have asked Moscow to mediate an end to the conflict pitting Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's forces against pro-democracy rebels, Russian officials said Thursday.

"Requests have been voiced that Russia take upon itself the role of a mediator in settling the situation in Libya," President Dmitry Medvedev's spokeswoman Natalia Timakova told reporters at the G8 summit in Deauville.

She said that the requests were made during a series of bilateral talks at the French resort between Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

The three Western countries have been leading UN-sanctioned military action including air strikes against Kadhafi's forces as they try to quash the rebellion.

Russia has been critical of the strikes, but abstained from vetoing the UN Security Council resolution authorising military intervention to protect civilians.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone with Kadhafi's Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi earlier Thursday and he also asked Moscow to mediate a ceasefire, the Russian foreign ministry said.

"Tripoli's representative came forward with a request to help achieve agreements on a ceasefire and the start of talks without pre-conditions," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

© 2011 AFP

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