International

China, Russia Hold Talks With Libyan Rebels

Russia and China, two countries that abstained from voting in the United Nations resolution authorizing use of force in Libya, say their diplomats have made contact with Libyan rebels.

The AFP reports on China's dealings:

China said on Friday that its ambassador to Qatar, Zhang Zhiliang, met recently with the Libyan opposition leader Mustapha Abdul-Jalil, but did not say where the meeting took place and gave few details on the discussions.

When asked whether China was mediating between the two sides, Hong said: "China is working along with the international community to resolve the Libyan crisis politically."

Russia's RIA Novosti quotes the Russian President's Special Representative for Africa Mikhail Margelov, who had just come off a meeting with the chairman of the National Transitional Council in Benghazi:

"We have not severed our relations with Tripoli and we have established relations with Benghazi. We are ready to act as mediators in promoting an internal political dialogue in Libya. Russia wants to see Libya as an independent, single, sovereign and democratic state, an integral part of the Arab world and an inalienable part of the African Union, a worthy member of the international community. At present, the Libyan elite and Libyan society are split. They seem to be on the opposite banks – some are looking to Benghazi and the others to Tripoli. Russia is seeking to build a bridge between these two banks that separate Libyan society."

Today, Xinhua, the Chinese government's English news service, reported that the government was encouraging both sides in Libya to consider the African Union road map.

The plan calls for a transitional period, as well as political reforms that "meet the aspirations of the Libyan people."

Hong, reports Xinhua, encouraged a ceasefire.

"Libya's future should be decided by its own people, and China respects the Libyan people's choice," Xinhua quotes Hong as saying.

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