March 28, 2011 / 1:02 PM / in 8 years

Italy urges political deal for post-Gaddafi Libya

ROME (Reuters) - Italy on Monday proposed a political deal to end the Libya crisis, including a quick ceasefire, exile for Muammar Gaddafi and dialogue between rebels and tribal leaders.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters he had discussed the proposals with Germany, France and Sweden and expected to talk them through with Turkey later on Monday, ahead of an international meeting on Libya in London on Tuesday.

“A political solution to create a new and democratic Libya is today the most important objective,” he said.

“It has to be a shared solution. The political solution should unite, not divide, us (the international community).”

Frattini said an African country could offer Gaddafi asylum, and ruled out that the Libyan leader would remain in power.

“Gaddafi must understand that it would be an act of courage to say: ‘I understand that I have to go’,” Frattini added. “We hope that the African Union can find a valid proposal.”

Frattini’s spokesman said Italy hoped that international powers meeting in London could express “a united vision” for a post-Gaddafi Libya, including an internationally monitored ceasefire and “an inclusive dialogue between the rebel council, tribal leaders and other players in Libyan society, except Gaddafi.”

Italy, which was Gaddafi’s closest ally in Europe before fighting in its former colony broke out last month, only reluctantly joined military operations earlier this month, feeling sidelined by France and Britain.

Frattini, who had strongly pushed for NATO to take over command of the operation, said on Monday rebel advances backed by Western-led air strikes at the weekend showed “that the international mission is starting to bear fruit, protecting cities from the terrible bombardments by Gaddafi’s forces.”

Foreign ministry officials said Italy hoped that rebel gains would push Gaddafi into a corner and he could be brought to negotiate an exit, even though he has vowed to fight to the end.

Editing by Barry Moody

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