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NATO Airstrikes Pound Libyan Government Buildings

VOA News May 17, 2011

Russia has called on Libya to comply with a United Nations Security Council resolution and withdraw its armed forces from civilian areas.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with representatives of the Libyan government Tuesday in Moscow. Lavrov said the Libyans expressed a willingness to look at an African Union peace plan if NATO ends its bombing campaign.

The Russian overture came as NATO airstrikes targeted a building used by Libya's security services, as well as the headquarters of the anti-corruption agency. Both structures were on fire after the bombing.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has said United Nations and Libyan officials are looking for a way for embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to go into exile. Meanwhile Tuesday, Tunisian officials say Libya's oil minister has left his post and defected to Tunisia.

Shukri Ghanem was the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation and veteran member of Gadhafi's regime. The defection has not been confirmed by Libyan officials.

On Monday, the International Criminal Court prosecutor asked judges to issue arrest warrants for Gadhafi, one of his sons and his intelligence chief, for crimes against humanity.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said at The Hague Monday he had gathered evidence that Gadhafi, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanousi committed crimes with the goal of preserving the Libyan leader's authority.

The ICC prosecutor said evidence shows Gadhafi had personally ordered attacks on civilians since launching a brutal crackdown on anti-government rebels in February.

ICC judges will study the evidence and either accept the warrant requests, reject them or ask for additional evidence. The process is likely to take weeks.

Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim has dismissed the ICC's efforts, calling them "questionable."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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