Kremlin chief urges negotiations on Libya

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stressed the importance of a negotiated outcome to the conflict in Libya following talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome on Thursday.

"We would like as much as possible for the problem to be resolved through negotiations and not by military means," Medvedev told reporters.

"It's a very difficult road," he said. He added that he would discuss the issue in Rome later on Thursday with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and US Vice President Joseph Biden.

Russia has enjoyed close ties with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime and abstained from a UN Security Council vote in March that gave the go-ahead for international military action against Libya.

But it has increasingly distanced itself from the regime in recent weeks and at the G8 summit in France last week Medvedev pledged to ramp up diplomatic efforts to end the conflict.

Medvedev was one of dozens of foreign dignitaries attending a celebration to mark Republic Day in Italy, the anniversary of a referendum after World War II in 1946 that abolished the monarchy and founded a republic.

NATO air raids shook Tripoli again on Thursday as the UN denounced crimes against humanity and war crimes during fighting between Moamer Kadhafi's forces and rebels seeking to topple the embattled Libyan strongman.

© 2011 AFP

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