U.N.: Libya ministers want cease-fire

May 15, 2011 at 11:22 PM
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TRIPOLI, Libya, May 15 (UPI) -- Top-level Libyan officials are interested in pursuing a cease-fire with NATO-backed, anti-government rebels, a U.N. official said Sunday.

Abdel Elah al-Khatib, the United Nations' special envoy for Libya, met with the North African nation's foreign minister, the prime minister, the secretary-general of the Libyan Public Congress and the tribal forum that supports Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

"Their discussions focused on the need to fully implement Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973, to allow full humanitarian access, and to establish a cease-fire and political process," a representative of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a release.

"The special envoy's interlocutors said they were open and ready to fully engage and to cooperate with his efforts."

Word that the Gadhafi government are expressing a desire to end the hostilities came as preparations are under way to charge Gadhafi and two other Libyan leaders with crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, an unidentified official told CNN.

The charges would relate to Gadhafi's violent military response to protests in February calling for him to step down after 42 years to make way for political reform. With each call for his resignation, he became more defiant and the military responses became more harsh.

This would mark the first time the court issued warrants before a conflict was over, although the source told CNN preparing the charges could take considerable time.

On the military side, Gen. David Richards, head of Britain's armed forces, told The Sunday Telegraph he wants NATO's allowable targets expanded to avoid a stalemate.

The United Nations authorized NATO to impose a no-fly zone that includes targeting Libyan artillery positions that could be used against civilians. Richards said that isn't enough anymore.

"At present NATO is not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya," Richards said. "But if we want to increase the pressure on Gadhafi's regime then we need to give serious consideration to increasing the range of targets we can hit."

Another unidentified senior NATO officer agreed.

"If we just carry on like this, then Gadhafi will survive, and we will have reached strategic stalemate, which no one wants to see," the officer said.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting and hundreds of thousands of others have fled their homes.

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