| 13.8°C Belfast

Gaddafi 'refuses to leave Libya'

Close

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and South African president Jacob Zuma met in Tripoli (AP Photo/HO-GCIS)

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and South African president Jacob Zuma met in Tripoli (AP Photo/HO-GCIS)

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and South African president Jacob Zuma met in Tripoli (AP Photo/HO-GCIS)

Muammar Gaddafi insists he will not leave his country, South Africa's president has said after he met the embattled Libyan ruler.

Gaddafi's departure is the key demand of rebel forces fighting his troops. The hard lines of the two sides and competing, high-level visits illustrated the virtual stalemate in the conflict.

Italy's foreign minister Franco Frattini has pledged to provide Libya's rebels with fuel and hundreds of millions of pounds backed by the frozen assets of Gaddafi's regime. He was visiting the rebel "capital", Benghazi, after President Jacob Zuma visited Gaddafi.

Nato aircraft bomb the Libyan capital night after night, and military forces from the two sides engage each other in battles, shelling and rocket attacks, but little is changing on the ground.

South Africa is concerned for Gaddafi's safety, according to a statement released by Mr Zuma's office, after he returned home from his talks with the president in Tripoli - a rare visit by a high-level world figure.

Mr Zuma was pressing to revive an African Union proposal for a ceasefire and dialogue to settle the Libya conflict, and Gaddafi agreed, the statement said,

"Colonel Gaddafi called for an end to the bombings to enable a Libyan dialogue," it said. "He emphasised that he was not prepared to leave his country, despite the difficulties."

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Mr Zuma called for a halt to Nato air strikes as part of the ceasefire. After initially backing Nato's involvement, Mr Zuma and the African Union called for a cessation, saying Nato had overstepped its UN mandate to protect civilians.

Nato aircraft blasted five tank transporters near the western coastal town of Zlitan on Tuesday, British military spokesman Major General John Lorimer said. The town is between Tripoli and the rebel-held city of Misrata.

Defections from the Gaddafi regime appear to be speeding up. Thirteen servicemen loyal to Gaddafi, including a colonel and four commanders, have fled to neighbouring Tunisia, the second group of military men to defect to Tunisia this week. On Friday, a group of 22, including a colonel and ranking officers, arrived at the same port from Misrata.


Top Videos



Privacy