PARIS (Reuters) - A spokesman for the rebel Libyan National Transitional Council said on Tuesday there was no room for talks with Muammar Gaddafi after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the Libyan leader’s arrest.
“After the ICC decision I don’t think there is a place for any direct or indirect contact with Gaddafi,” said spokesman Mahmoud Shammam.
Shamman spoke to reporters after rebel chief Mahmoud Jibril met French President Nicolas Sarkozy to discuss the financial, political and military situation in Libya.
Last week, Shammam told French daily Le Figaro that the rebels could possibly accept Gaddafi stepping down and allow him to stay in an “oasis” in a remote region of Libya.
The Hague-based ICC issued warrants on Monday for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi on charges of crimes against humanity for their role in the killing of civilian protesters.
On an earlier visit to Paris by Jibril, Sarkozy promised to step up air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces and pledged to visit the rebel stronghold of Benghazi himself.
“We got the ultimate support from President Sarkozy and his government and we got some commitment toward getting more financial support for our people,” Shammam said after the Tuesday meeting.
He later added that the rebels had asked that more of Gaddafi’s government assets be unfrozen as loans. “We are not asking the French military help on the ground. We are getting our means from other places, “ Shammam said, without elaborating.
France said at a meeting in the United Arab Emirates in early June it was working on unfreezing Libyan assets of 290 million euros ($410.6 million) from French banks.
Shammam said a peace initiative proposed by the African Union, which calls for the immediate end to hostilities but makes no mention of Gaddafi’s future, did not go far enough. The initiative should address the wish of the Libyan people, which he said was the “departure of the age of dictatorship.”
The rebels’ Council would send a high-level representation to an African Union summit which opens on Thursday in Equatorial Guinea. “Unless the Africans address the question of removing Gaddafi and his family from power we will not accept anything less than that,” said Shammam.
Reporting by John Irish, Editing by Alexandria Sage; editing by David Stamp