PARIS – NATO will stop their bombardment of Libya as soon as Gaddafi loyalists and rebels sit round a table and begin direct negotiations, according to the French defence minister, quoted by ‘The Telegraph.’ Gerard Longuet also said that NATO would stop their bombardment as soon as the Libyans speak to each to other.
His comments appeared to be a significant shift on France’s position the Libyan uprising, although Paris said its objective was still that Col Muammar Gaddafi must eventually give up power. France has spearheaded the NATO-led air campaign in Libya, and was the first to launch air strikes against troops loyal to Gaddafi. Longuet also appeared to leave the door open for Gaddafi to remain in Libya. When asked whether it was possible to hold talks if Gaddafi had not stepped down he said: “He will be in another room in his palace, with another title.” Also yesterday, the son of Gaddafi, Seif Al-Islam said Tripoli is negotiating a way out of the crisis with France not with the rebels, ‘The Independent’ reported. In an interview, he said Tripoli had received a “clear message” from Paris through a special envoy who met with the French president.