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Libya Describes NATO Airstrikes Targeting Gadhafi Compound as Assassination Attempt

Moammar Gadhafi supporters inspect damage following an airstrike in Tripoli, Libya, April 25, 2011

Libya has described the latest NATO airstrike on Moammar Gadhafi’s compound as an assassination attempt that violates international law. The Gadhafi government and rebel representatives are holding separate talks on an African Union peace proposal.

Libya’s Foreign Minister Abdelati al Obeidi Monday accused NATO of deliberately aiming missiles at Mr. Gadhafi’s house in an attempt to kill him.

"This is an attempt to assassinate the leader. It is quite clear. This is against international law. They have tried this before in 1986. I think everybody should condemn this kind of raids. And stop it. Not only on the house of the leader but all over Libya," Obeidi said.

The United States has denied that the NATO strike early Monday was specifically intended to kill the Libyan leader. A White House spokesman said it is not U.S. policy to bring about regime change in Libya.

At the same time, however, the United States, France and Britain have made clear there can be no political solution until Mr. Gadhafi leaves power.

Foreign Minister Obeidi dismissed the U.S.-British-French position, saying only Libyans can settle the leadership question.

"They can say what they like, but as far as we know, in their democracy, leaders are accepted or rejected by their own people. So this is a Libyan internal matter, it has nothing to do with them. They are not authorized to say this regime is legal or not legal," he said.

The Libyan official was speaking at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, where he is attending two days of meetings on an AU peace proposal. Representatives of the rebel Transitional National Council also are attending, but the two sides are not expected to meet face-to-face.

The so-called AU road map calls for a cease-fire leading to a negotiated settlement of the Libyan conflict. The rebels earlier rejected the proposal because it does not require Mr. Gadhafi’s ouster.

But in an apparent about face, one of two rebel representatives at the Addis Ababa talks, Abdalla al Zubedi, suggested that the AU road map might serve as the basis for further discussion.

"It is a good proposal, of course. It is under study," he said.

But Zubedi bristled at a reporter’s question about conditions under which the rebels might agree to a cease-fire.

"This should be addressed to the regime, not to us," Zubedi said.

Monday’s session included members of an African Union ad hoc committee formed last month to seek a negotiated settlement to the Libyan conflict. Tuesday’s gathering is to be a ministerial-level meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council.