Russia refuses to recognise Libya rebels: official

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Russia on Monday refused to recognise the rebel National Transitional Council as Libya's official authority but said it would view it as a formal negotiating partner.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week's recognition by Western and regional powers of the opposition government at the expense of Moamer Kadhafi's regime was tantamount to picking sides in a civil war.

"We do not share this position for one simple reason -- this again means that those who declare this recognition stand wholly on the side of one political power in a civil war," Lavrov said.

"This again means that those who support this decision support a policy of isolation -- in this case, isolation of the forces represented in Tripoli," Russia's top diplomat said.

"We traditionally reject isolation as a method for resolving political problems in any conflict."

Lavrov also dismissed Western media speculation that Russia is now ready to offer political asylum to Kadhafi and his closest family.

"This answer has been asked many time before, and the answer is no," Lavrov said.

Russia abstained from a vote on a UN Security Council resolution in March that opened the way for air strikes on Kadhafi regime targets 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 Kadhafi's potential exile.

Those mediation efforts have thus far failed.

© 2011 AFP

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