Kremlin says mediator to go to Tripoli and Benghazi

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stressed the need for a negotiated outcome to the Libya conflict on Thursday and said Moscow would be sending a mediator to both Tripoli and the rebel bastion of Benghazi.

"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.

At a meeting with US Vice President Joseph Biden and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome, Medvedev said Russia would be sending its special envoy to mediate, ANSA news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources.

Russia has enjoyed close ties with Moamer Kadhafi's regime -- notably through large-scale arms contracts -- and abstained from a UN Security Council vote in March that gave the go-ahead for 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 Russia said Kadhafi "needs to go" and 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 Kadhafi's forces and rebels seeking to topple the embattled Libyan strongman.

© 2011 AFP

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