May 31, 2011 / 11:37 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Zuma says Gaddafi refuses to leave Libya

* Zuma says Gaddafi personal safety a concern

* Gaddafi wants end to NATO bombings before talks

(Adds background, Zuma quotes)

By Marius Bosch

JOHANNESBURG, May 31 (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is not prepared to leave Libya but will press efforts to find a political solution to the country’s conflict, South African President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

In a statement issued after meeting Gaddafi in Tripoli on Monday, Zuma said the Libyan leader had called for an end to NATO bombings “to enable a Libyan dialogue” and renewed a call for a ceasefire.

These terms were rejected by rebel leaders last month after an earlier mission to Libya by Zuma, who was mediating on behalf of the African Union. Libyan rebel leaders say Gaddafi’s 41-year-old rule must end before any ceasefire.

“He emphasised that he was not prepared to leave his country, despite the difficulties,” the statement released by Zuma said.

Zuma was taken on a tour of Tripoli to see the damage done by the bombings and the statement said: “The personal safety of Colonel Gaddafi is of concern.”

Western leaders in charge of the two-month NATO-led air campaign against his forces say they will not stop bombing until Gaddafi steps down. Coalition aircraft resumed attacks within hours of Zuma’s departure from Libya.

The South African president said a lasting solution to the conflict could be reached only through the involvement of all parties.

“We call on all leaders in Libya to exercise decisive leadership to find a solution to the crisis in the country, and to put the interests of their country first. Nothing other than a dialogue among all parties in Libya can bring about a lasting solution.”

In a separate statement, Pretoria said Zuma had spoken to the Libyan leader about a South African freelance photographer believed to have been killed by forces loyal to Gaddafi in April.

Libyan authorities had given an undertaking to help find the body of Anton Hammerl, 41, who also had Austrian nationality and lived in London, the statement said.

Hammerl was hit in the stomach after coming under fire on April 5, and is believed to have died after being abandoned in the desert outskirts of the eastern oil town of Brega. (Editing by Ed Cropley and Elizabeth Piper)

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