Russia’s Medvedev Urges Talks Between Gaddafi, Libyan Rebels

MOSCOW – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called on Muammar Gaddafi and Libya’s rebels on Wednesday to stop fighting and sit down for talks, saying the embattled leader still had some power and military might. “We want the Libyans to come to an agreement among themselves,” Medvedev said after talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Siberia.

“We would like the fighting to stop as soon as possible and for them to sit down at the negotiating table and reach an agreement on Libya’s future,” Medvedev said in his first public remarks on Libya since Gaddafi fled his Tripoli stronghold.

“Despite the the rebel successes in the offensive on Tripoli, Gaddafi and his supporters still maintain some influence and military potential,” he said.

Medvedev described Moscow’s position on Libya as “cautious” and said Russia was closely watching the situation.

He suggested Russia could establish formal relations with the rebels if they emerge as a force with nationwide public support, a sign that Moscow is edging toward recognition of forces poised to topple Gaddafi’s 42-year-old rule.

“If the rebels have enough strength and opportunities to unite the country for a new democratic start, then naturally, we will consider establishing relations with them,” he said.

More than 30 countries, including the United States and some European Union nations, have recognised the rebel National Transitional Council as the new Libyan authorities.

Russian officials have warned that NATO aerial support for the storming of Tripoli could cast doubt on the rebels’ legitimacy.

Russia did not use its UN Security Council veto power in March to block a resolution that authorised military intervention, but has accused NATO forces conducting air strikes of overstepping their mandate to protect civilians.

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