Russia turns down offer to join Libya contact group talks

13th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Wednesday turned down an invitation to join upcoming Libya discussions as part of the contact group of major powers and insisted that all decisions on the conflict be made by the UN.

Turkey had earlier invited China along with Russia to attend a meeting scheduled for Friday in Istanbul.

But the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow had received other such offers and had always turned them down in the past.

"We are not a part of this group and do not take part in its activities. And the same holds true for the upcoming meeting in Istanbul," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia abstained from a vote on a UN Security Council resolution in March that opened the way for international involvement in Libya and has since criticized the scale and intent of the NATO-led Western campaign.

A Kremlin envoy has since met with top Libyan rebels in their stronghold city of Benghazi and conducted negotiations in Tripoli over the terms of Moamer Kadhafi's potential exile.

Those mediation efforts have thus far failed despite hints of top-level negotiations over exit terms for the veteran Libyan strongman.

Moscow's shuttle diplomacy also received a rare vote of confidence from US President Barack Obama during telephone talks Monday with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.

Russia's statement on Wednesday said previous contact group meetings -- which primarily comprised NATO members involved in the campaign -- showed a bias toward the rebels that broke the spirit of the UN resolution on Libya.

The previous three meetings ended up backing "one side in the continuing Libya civil conflict, which is claiming the lives of an ever increasing number of its citizens and is ruining its economy", the Russian statement said.

"We proceed from the premise that it was the UN Security Council that adopted the famous resolution on Libya, and that it should be the one continuing to play its central role in finding a solution to the Libyan crisis," said the statement.

© 2011 AFP

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