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Libyan Rebel Official: No Direct Talks with Gadhafi

A rebel fighter inspects the condition of a rocket launcher captured from troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi near the town of Bir al-Ghanam, about 100km (62 miles) south of Tripoli, June 30, 2011.

In Libya, a rebel official says his group, the Transitional National Council (TNC), will not negotiate with President Moammar Gadhafi and will not accept him as part of the country’s future.

The African Union has offered to host talks between the two sides.

But rebel official Abdul Karim said it is unlikely the TNC will hold direct talks with Mr. Gadhafi or senior officials of his administration.

The French newspaper Le Monde quotes the president’s son, Saif al-Islam, as saying any negotiations without his father will fail.

If “my father is not part of the negotiations…you think one can find a solution that does not involve him? No, it’s impossible,” said Islam.

The AU’s offer to host talks is part of what’s called a “road map” to peace, which also includes a cease-fire between forces loyal to Mr. Gadhafi and the rebels.

Rebel official Karim said the president should be put on trial in Libya for the alleged crimes committed under his rule, despite conflicting statements from the rebels about whether he should step down (and go into exile) or remain in the country.

“If he [Mr. Gadhafi] doesn’t want to leave the country…I will accept it. He must not leave the country because he has his place in the prison,” said Karim. “The justice system anywhere in the world [would] say the right place for Gadhafi and even for members of his family [who] participated in these [alleged] crimes, should be in prison.”

Karim denied that the fighting between the rebels and forces loyal to President Gadhafi is at an impasse.

“I assure you there is no stalemate. It’s a war, you know, and the war takes time,” said Karim. “So we are very patient and we are sure that we are going to win this war.”