Italy calls for political solution in Libya

Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:28pm GMT

By Nick Carey

MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) - Italy wants a political solution to the war in Libya that would see Muammar Gaddafi "leaving the stage," its foreign minister told an Algerian newspaper on Tuesday after a rebel campaign ran into resistance.

With rifts apparent within NATO, the United States said some allies in the campaign against Gaddafi could see their forces "exhausted" within three months.

Rebel fighters are seemingly unable to make much progress in their fight to end Gaddafi's 41-year rule and calls for a diplomatic resolution have mounted.

Rebels stalled in their advance towards Tripoli on Monday. Shelling by forces loyal to Gaddafi killed eight rebel fighters and wounded 25, according to hospital sources in the rebel stronghold of Misrata.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini's call for a political way out came after his Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi exposed rifts within NATO by saying he had not supported the war on Libya, and France bridled at the slow pace of efforts to end the crisis.

"We are convinced that the Libyan crisis requires a political solution characterised by an end to fighting, Gaddafi, who lacks all legitimacy, leaving the stage, and the launching of an inclusive democratic process involving all parts of Libyan society," Frattini told Algeria's El Khabar newspaper in an interview to be published on Tuesday.

NATO-member Italy has provided air bases from which alliance planes bomb Libya.

In New York, the U.N. peace envoy for Libya urged the government and rebels to turn indirect talks on a settlement into direct ones, but acknowledged they were still far apart.   Continued...

<p>Smoke rises after a rocket exploded near a rebel fighter's position on the outskirts of Zlitan near Misrata's western frontline July 11, 2011. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani</p>
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