Chavez says Libya officials discuss peace options
CARACAS (Reuters) - A delegation of Libyan officials is in Venezuela to discuss possible peaceful solutions to the war in the North African country, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.
A vocal opponent of military action by Western governments, Chavez is also a close ally of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and has proposed talks between rebels and the government.
"Who gave them the right to do this, it's crazy," Chavez said of NATO military strikes. "Because they don't like the leader Gaddafi, because they want to take Libya's oil and water ... they are chucking bombs everywhere."
"We are dedicated to finding a political solution to the drama being lived by the Libyan people. A delegation sent by Gaddafi has arrived in Venezuela and we are seeking a peaceful outcome," Chavez said during a speech to workers.
He did not give details of which officials traveled with the delegation.
Last month, Chavez proposed that an international commission should visit Libya to seek negotiations between rebels and the government, but the idea did not gain traction and was rejected by Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said regional foreign ministers meeting in Caracas on Tuesday had discussed ways to end the conflict through diplomacy and dialogue. He also stressed that Libya's national unity must be preserved.
"(We worked on) a proposal geared toward the need to overcome the inertia of the war that has been imposed and makes a call for understanding and to increase efforts to stop the barbarity," Maduro told reporters.
Venezuela has been mentioned as a possible safe haven for Gaddafi if he ever flees his own country, but Chavez officials have denied that option is being considered.
The African Union is also seeking a non-military solution to the violence in Libya that calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities followed by a transitional period and political dialogue.
(Reporting by Caracas Newsroom; Writing by Diego Ore; Editing by Laura MacInnis)
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