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Libyan Rebels Set Cease-Fire Conditions

U.N. envoy Abdelilah Al-Khatib (L) and Mustafa Abdul-Jalil (R) head of the opposition's interim governing council based in Benghazi, at a joint press conference in Benghazi,Apr 1 2011

In the main rebel-held city of Benghazi, opposition leader and former justice minister Mustafa Abdul-Jalil told reporters that the rebels would be willing to accept a cease-fire under the right circumstances.

He says that the rebels will accept a cease-fire under specific conditions, including granting complete freedom to Libyans in the west of the country to determine their own fate.

"Rebels also want the withdrawal of the mercenaries from streets and snipers from rooftops along with an end to pro-government forces laying siege to the western cities," he said.

Abdul-Jalil stressed that the goal of the rebels was to liberate the country from the rule of Gadhafi, while preserving the unity and maintaining Tripoli as the capital.

He went on to say that the rebel provisional council had contacted the International Red Cross to negotiate a prisoner swap with Gadhafi loyalists.

Abudul-Jalil also complained that Gadhafi forces had kidnapped citizens in the towns of Zawara and Zawiya and elsewhere.

Rebel fighters fired rockets from positions along the coastal highway outside the town of Brega Friday, as Gadhafi loyalists operated inside the town. Large groups of rebel fighters also pulled back to the nearby town of Ajdabiya, overlooking strategic highways to the rebel-held cities of Benghazi and Tobruk.

In western Libya, witnesses inside the besieged city of Misrata reported that government tanks had entered the city, firing randomly as troops attacked and looted homes and businesses.

Despite the fighting, cease-fire negotiations were reported to be taking place in London. According to the British daily The Guardian, Mohammed Ismail, a close aide to Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the Libyan leader, reportedly met with British officials to discuss a political settlement.