'Political solution' needed for Libya

Updated: 2011-06-08 07:02

By Cheng Guangjin, Wang Chenyan and Li Lianxing (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China urged all parties in Libya to reach an immediate cease-fire and resolve the crisis through political means, adding that it was willing to work with the international community to seek a political solution.

"Libya's future should be decided by its own people, and China respects the Libyan people's choice," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news conference on Tuesday.

He called on all parties to "fully consider the mediation proposals put forward by the international community to defuse tensions as soon as possible".

Asked if China was hoping to act as mediator between the Libyan government and the rebels, Hong sidestepped the question. "China is working along with the international community to resolve the Libyan crisis politically," he replied.

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He also said that Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi is in China for a three-day visit that ends on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi will meet Obeidi and discuss a political solution to the crisis, Hong said.

"Both sides will exchange views on the situation in Libya and on how to find a political solution to the crisis," Hong said.

Before the Libyan foreign minister's visit, a Chinese diplomat, based in Egypt, visited the Libyan rebel base of Benghazi for talks with the National Transitional Council and to examine humanitarian needs, Hong said earlier.

The disclosure came a few days after China announced that its ambassador to Qatar had met Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the de facto political leader of the rebels, its first confirmed contact with the insurgents.

China has so far stuck to its public position of not taking sides in the fighting in Libya.

Chinese analysts said that talks over a political solution are the only effective means to end the crisis.

He Wenping, chief of African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the main reason for the Libyan foreign minister's visit is to "seek China's support".

China also wants to take the opportunity to learn more about the situation in Libya, including the possibility of a political resolution to the crisis, she said.

"If the impasse continues, Muammar Gadhafi will hardly last another 90 days, the extension of the NATO mission in Libya," she said.

NATO aircraft hit Tripoli in 11 attacks in rare daytime strikes on Tuesday. The strikes appeared to land close to Gadhafi's compound, the Associated Press reported.

NATO officials have warned for days that they were seeking to increase the scope and intensity of their two-month old campaign to oust Gadhafi.

Yin Gang, a research fellow at the West Asian and African Studies Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China has been consistently calling for a political solution in Libya.

"Obeidi's visit suggests the Libyan government shares the same view," Yin said.

On China's first confirmed contact with the Libyan rebel leader, Yin told China Daily that it "complies with the consistent stance of China's diplomacy".

"China is the last permanent member of the UN Security Council to meet with the rebels. More importantly, among the major powers, only Russia and China have kept communication with both sides in Libya. China hopefully will play a more important role," Yin added.

China and Russia abstained when the UN Security Council voted to authorize a no-fly zone in Libya in March, but quickly condemned the subsequent expansion of air strikes.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's envoy, Mikhail Margelov, met with rebel leader Abdul Jalil on Tuesday to address possible ways out of the conflict and the prevention of a humanitarian catastrophe, Xinhua said.

Hua Liming, a former ambassador to the Middle East, said China's recent diplomatic moves suggested that it wanted both sides in the Libyan conflict to be involved in negotiations.

Contact will "facilitate the peace process", Hua said.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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