Tunis offers Jerba island for Libya talks says Margelov

Tunis is prepared to offer the island of Jerba as a venue for talks on resolution of the situation in Libya, Russia’s Presidential Representative to Africa Mikhail Margelov said on Saturday.

“Tunis is ready to offer Jerba for a round table for internal Libyan political dialogue if the Russian Federation and African Union can put their umbrella over that round table,” Margelov said. He acknowledged that representatives of the Libyan rebel forces in Benghazi had made their participation in the round table conditional on the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi announcing his renunciation of political ambitions.

“It is important, and success depends on the sides not refusing to take part in the opportunity for dialogue. No-one is using the slogan ‘War until victory’ ”, he said.

Margelov held talks with Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, who met with Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) leader Abdel Jalil on Saturday.

“It’s possible to establish that a process of talks about Libyan internal politics has been started,” Margelov said.

“Tunis is playing a key role in this process,” he added.

“Abdel Jalil repeated the well known position of the TNC that Gaddafi has to leave all political posts and this is the main condition for start of a political dialog. I have prepared a report for President Medvedev on the situation,” he said.

Libya has been in a state of civil war, which began after mass demonstrations started in mid-February against the forty year rule of Muammar Gaddafi.

The UN then passed a resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya, and NATO aircraft then started a bombing campaign against Libyan government forces attacking civilians in the country.

Russia has criticized NATO’s actions as being in excess of its mandate under the resolution.

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