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Russia Offers Help in Mediating Gadhafi's Exit But Says No Asylum


Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (file photo)

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (file photo)

Russia says it is willing to help mediate Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's exit from power, but will not offer him asylum.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaking at the G8 Summit in France called on Gadhafi to resign and said that some countries might be able to shelter him. The Russian president announced sending an envoy to the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Friday.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the Libyan leader had "deprived himself of legitimacy" and it had become necessary to find a formula to help him leave. Russia has previously offered to mediate a settlement between anti-government rebels and Gadhafi.

Meanwhile, forces loyal to Gadhafi have renewed efforts to regain control of rebel-held Misrata, Libya's third largest city.

The Reuters news agency says fierce fighting between pro-government forces and rebels is raging on the city's western outskirts. Separately, the French news agency AFP quotes NATO's Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard as saying pro-Gadhafi forces have laid landmines around the city.

Also, a series of explosions rocked the Libyan capital, Tripoli, late Thursday. Some of the blasts occurred near Gadhafi's residential compound. However, the specific targets from the suspected NATO airstrikes were not immediately identified.

Earlier Thursday, Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi offered a truce with rebels, but ruled out Mr. Gadhafi's departure - a key demand of the opposition and NATO.

Also, Britain said it would deploy Apache helicopter gunships against Gadhafi's forces in Libya as part of NATO's operations. France has already indicated it will send attack helicopters to the North African country.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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