UPDATE 1-South African president Zuma in Tripoli for talks

Mon May 30, 2011 3:04pm GMT
 

* Libyan PM, foreign minister greet Zuma; no sign of Gaddafi

* Zuma tours sites hit by NATO bombing

(Adds detail of visit)

TRIPOLI, May 30 (Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma arrived in Tripoli on Monday for talks with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, a meeting some hope could help find a solution to the violence in the country.

Zuma walked down the red carpet at Tripoli's airport to meet assembled dignitaries to the sound of a band and children chanting "We want Gaddafi!" in English, while waving Libyan flags and pictures of the leader.

There was no sign of Gaddafi, but Libyan state news agency Jana reported that Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi and Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi greeted Zuma.

According to Jana, Zuma later visited Gaddafi's house in the area of Gargour, where Libyan officials said his son Saif al-Arab, 29, was killed in a NATO strike in late April, and also NATO-hit offices in Gaddafi's compound of Bab al-Aziziyah.

Fighting broke out in February between forces loyal to Gaddafi and rebels, chiefly in the east of Libya, seeking to depose him. NATO later intervened in the conflict under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians from Gaddafi's forces.

The U.N. Security Council voted in March to authorise a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" -- code for military action -- to protect civilians against Gaddafi's army. (Reporting by Peter Graff; Writing by Jan Harvey)

 
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