Britain, South Africa disagree over next steps in Libya

Mon Jul 18, 2011 11:42am GMT
 

PRETORIA, July 18 (Reuters) - The leaders of South Africa and Britain disagreed on Monday over how to proceed in Libya, South African President Jacob Zuma saying he wanted to see negotiations aimed at ending the five-month-old rebellion there.

Zuma, speaking at a news conference after talks with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, pushed for NATO to give an African Union (AU) "roadmap" involving talks between Libyan rebels and leader Muammar Gaddafi the chance to succeed.

"Once there was a fight, the AU took a very clear position -- that military intervention would not solve the problem. You needed political intervention," Zuma said.

"How must Gaddafi go? Where must he go? Why must he go? These issues must be put on the table, and the Libyan people must decide," said Zuma, whose government has accused the West of trying to assassinate Gaddafi.

NATO has been bombing Libya for nearly four months under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians from bombardment by forces loyal to Gaddafi, who has shown no sign of being prepared to end his 42-year rule in the face of the rebellion.

Cameron, whose Africa trip has been reduced to two days by an escalating phone hacking scandal at home, said he and Zuma both wanted the same result -- a peaceful and democratic Libya.

"We both want to see a future for Libya that doesn't include Colonel Gaddafi," Cameron said.

"The difference is that the president sees that as the outcome of a political process, whereas I believe for a political process to work it has to be the starting point. That is the difference between us. That's the gap."

Rebel forces based in Benghazi control a swathe of eastern Libya, the western city of Misrata, and parts of the Western Mountains southwest of the capital Tripoli, which is Gaddafi's stronghold.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Writing by Ed Cropley, editing by Tim Pearce)

 
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