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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Gaddafi could flee Libya in 2-3 weeks - ex-foreign minister

RIA Novosti

02:37 24/06/2011 ROME, June 24 (RIA Novosti) - Libyan embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi will secretly leave the country in the next two-three weeks, former foreign minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham said in a video interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera posted on Friday.

Shalgham, who is now an official spokesman for Libyan rebels, said Gaddafi had been holding secret talks with "friendly" countries to find a suitable solution for his future, which would ensure that he escapes trial by international courts and keeps his financial assets.

The former diplomat speculated that Belarus could be among these countries.

Shalgham, who served under Gaddafi for 40 years, expressed concern over Gaddafi's possible actions prior to leaving the country.

"Gaddafi is a dangerous man. I cannot even imagine what he could do before leaving Tripoli," he said.

At the same time, Shalgham dismissed concerns that Gaddafi may destroy Libya's rich oil deposits by claiming that rebels controlled 40 percent of the oil rigs in the country and the rest of them were in the desert too far from Tripoli.

Rebels control much of Libya's east, but Gaddafi's forces retain control of most of the west of the country.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya on March 17, paving the way for a military operation against Gaddafi, which began two days later. The command of the operation was shifted from a U.S.-led international coalition to NATO in late March.

On June 1, NATO extended its mandate for the Libya operation until late September. The coalition intervened in the North African country in March under a UN mandate to protect civilians against forces loyal to Gaddafi.

NATO insists that Gaddafi's regime had lost its legitimacy and the Libyan leader must surrender power to the opposition.

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