France Reaches Out to Qadaffi
France has split with NATO policy and is calling for negotiations with Qadaffi.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 7/12/2011, 9:59 PM / Last Update: 7/13/2011, 4:13 AM
France has split with NATO's official Libya policy and is openly calling for negotiations with Muammar Qaddafi, the Telegraph reports.
The French government has been passing messages to the Libyan leader, reports the British newspaper, and French defence minister Gerard Longuet has said it is time to "get around the table."
France's position is a clear departure with NATO and the US, who both explicitly stated that Qaddafi must leave office.
In an e-mailed statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero confirmed that France had contacted Qaddafi.
“We are passing him messages in liaison with the National Transitional Council and our allies,” Valero wrote, contradicting claims from Qaddafi's son that the French were bypassing Libyan rebel forces.
Some observers say the French are angry about the war dragging on and may be growing frustrated by the Libyan rebels.
Rebels forces have taken several mountain hamlets in the Nusafa region and are clamouring for an offensive into Qaddafi's increasingly fortified strongholds around Tripoli. But many question how the rebels, overextended and still outgunned, can hope to mount a major offensive without significant - and unlikely - support from NATO.
The Telegraph cited an unnamed Western diplomat who said France was "sending a message" to the rebels.
This despite their decision earlier today to continue arming the rebels.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi announced today that the Libyan government would be ready to negotiate without Qaddafi, adding "we are ready to negotiate without condition".