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Russia to present Libya roadmap after Tripoli visit

RIA Novosti

12:56 10/06/2011 MOSCOW, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's special envoy to Africa, Mikhail Margelov, is preparing for a visit to Tripoli that Moscow hopes will allow it to present a "road map" for resolving the four-month-old conflict in the North African country.

"We are ready to present the outline of a road map for resolving the Libyan conflict after my visit to Tripoli," Margelov said during a news conference at RIA Novosti on Friday.

He said he was waiting for NATO to clear the "transportation corridor" to Tripoli, where he will hold talks with Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Foreign Affairs Minister Abdelati al-Obeidi and "other members of the Cabinet."

Margelov, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's special envoy, said he may also meet with Col. Muammar Gaddafi, "if the president instructs me to."

In Russia's strongest warning yet to the Gaddafi regime, Margelov said the 69-year-old "has very little time" left before a formal indictment by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.

Echoing his president, Margelov said Gaddafi had "lost the legitimacy and moral right" to be the Libyan leader. Medvedev used similar language at the G8 summit in France two weeks ago, when world leaders asked Russia to play a mediatory role in the conflict.

Gaddafi, who is holed up in the capital, Tripoli, said he would fight to the end in an audio broadcast on state television on Wednesday.

Margelov, who is also chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian parliament's upper house, said Libya's opposition Transitional National Council (TNC) asked Russia to join the 22-nation Contact Group on Libya, which includes NATO members, Arab states and international groups. The group was set up in March to co-ordinate efforts in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Margelov held talks with TNC leaders in their stronghold of Benghazi on Tuesday.

"I received a request from the Transitional National Council that Russia join the Contact Group. The council asked Russia about this, I passed this on to the president of Russia and am waiting for further instructions," Margelov said.

He said both Russia and the TNC wanted a political solution to the crisis and criticized the NATO-led military campaign for overstepping its UN mandate to protect Libyan civilians.

"NATO is undoubtedly overstepping," he said. "I am certain that political problems are not solved through bombardment. Any barrage ends in talks."

Margelov said the TNC was willing to honor all of Libya's international contracts, including military deals with Russia.

"It shows that the TNC is also thinking of the strategic future of their country," he said.

On Thursday, Western and Arab powers involved in the Libya campaign promised more than $1 billion in aid to the rebels at a meeting of the Contact Group in Abu Dhabi.

Italy pledged $586 million, France $420 million, and Kuwait $180 million. The rebels say they need $3 billion over the next four months.

Margelov said he would also meet with U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle in Moscow later on Friday to discuss the situation in Libya.

"We are in contact with our American partners [on the situation in Libya]. Today at 2 p.m. I will hold a routine meeting with Ambassador Beyrle. We will discuss Libya," Margelov said.

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