Chavez Offers Qaddafi International Mediation
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has accepted an offer from Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, to help him negotiate with rebel forces. Venezuelan officials have met with the Arab League to discuss a peace plan.
Chavez and Qaddafi have been long-time allies, and share many similar views. While international leaders have condemned Qaddafi for killing protesters, Chavez has declined to do the same.
Over the past several days, Chavez spoke to other regional leaders to discuss the possibility of an "international committee for peace "in Libya that would include representatives of various Latin American and European countries. “I hope we can create a commission that goes to Libya to talk with the government and the opposition leaders. We want a peaceful solution,” Chavez said.
The United States has rejected Chavez's planned commission, and some European countries are expected to do the same. “You don't need an international commission to tell Colonel Qaddafi what he needs to do for the good of his country and the good of his people,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “He should step aside, and for the good of his people, he should stop attacking them.”
Chavez is planning U.S. representation on his commission despite the official dismissal. He has suggested the former U.S. President Jimmy Carter be invited to join, and also suggested American actor Sean Penn, who he said has agreed to meet him to discuss the idea.
Carter has met repeatedly with leaders of Hamas, which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist group. During his visits he castigated Israel, and accused Israeli leaders of deliberately attacking innocent people.
Sean Penn is known for his involvement in liberal political causes and his harsh criticism of former U.S. President George Bush. He earned Chavez's respect for his calls to impeach Bush, and met with the Venezuelan leader in 2007. Penn later said that journalists who call Chavez a dictator should be sent to prison.