US says will back Russian deal if Kadhafi quits

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The US will support Russia's bid to resolve the conflict in Libya provided Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi steps down, President Barack Obama told his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev Monday.

Obama thanked the Russian leader "for Russia's efforts at mediation in Libya" and said he looked forward to welcoming Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, a White House statement said.

"President Obama spoke with Russian President Medvedev today to discuss a range of bilateral and international issues and to express his condolences on the tragic sinking of the MS Bulgaria," the statement said.

"President Obama thanked President Medvedev for Russia's efforts at mediation in Libya, emphasizing that the United States is prepared to support negotiations that lead to a democratic transition in Libya as long as Kadhafi steps aside."

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

Medvedev met with South African President Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Sochi last week in an apparent bid to find a peaceful solution to the Libya crisis.

Russia has advocated the African Union take a leading role in the negotiations and Medvedev's personal envoy Mikhail Margelov held talks in Libya with both representatives of the rebels and the Kadhafi regime last month.

An unnamed top Russian official last week told the Russian Kommersant business daily that Kadhafi was ready to cede power in exchange for security guarantees.

Obama and Medvedev also discussed Sudan and Afghanistan during their telephone conversation, the statement from White House spokesman Jay Carney added.

"President Obama also expressed his support for President Medvedev's mediation efforts regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, and pledged American support for the effort to reach a framework agreement for negotiating a final peace agreement that will put an end to this conflict."

Lavrov shuttled between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Friday in a bid to revive the ailing peace process over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region after key talks last month failed.

The two leaders "also reviewed the outstanding issues related to Russia's World Trade Organization accession, and agreed to press to finish all aspects of these negotiations as soon as possible," Carney added.

© 2011 AFP

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