PARIS Muammar Gaddafi could remain in Libya if he relinquishes power, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday, in what appeared to be a fresh drive to find a political solution to the dragging conflict.
Juppe, asked during an interview on LCI television whether countries involved in the Libyan crisis could consider letting Gaddafi remain as part of a way out of the crisis, replied:
"One of the scenarios effectively envisaged is that he stays in Libya on one condition which I repeat -- that he very clearly steps aside from Libyan political life."
"A ceasefire depends on Gaddafi committing clearly and formally to surrender his military and civilian roles," said Juppe.
Two members of Libya's rebel Transitional National Council were due to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Wednesday. France was the first country to publicly recognize the council and the first to launch air strikes against Gaddafi's military machine when now NATO-led operations began in March.
"We want to maintain close links with them and see how we can help them," said Juppe.
Regarding possible negotiations with Gaddafi, Juppe said there were no talks underway at the moment in Paris with any of his representatives and that a U.N. envoy had now been charged with coordinating any such contacts.
"The issue now is not whether Gaddafi goes but when and how," Juppe said.
"There's the military side and the political side, which is progressing, with contacts which have not yet produced results but are coordinated by Mr (Abdul Elah) al-Khatib," the U.N. envoy charged with coordinating, he said.
(Reporting by Brian Love; Editing by Jon Boyle)