Russia urges Gadhafi's departure, offers aid to opposition

Updated: 2011-06-08 08:50


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BENGHAZI, Libya - An envoy of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said Tuesday Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's regime is illegitimate and pledged to provide economic and humanitarian aid to the rebels, an opposition official told Xinhua.

During his meeting with Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of Libya' s rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), Russian presidential envoy on Africa affairs Mikhail Margelov confirmed his country's stance that Gadhafi regime is no longer the legal representative of the Libyan people and he must depart from Libya, said Ahmed Gebreel, spokesman of the NTC's foreign affairs office.

Margelov also promised to work with the NTC in reconciliation and stabilization efforts during the post-Gadhafi era, Gebreel told Xinhua.

The NTC appreciates Russia's promise to provide economic and humanitarian aid, including fuel and loans. But details of the aid will not be decided until the Russian delegation reports to its government and gets instructions and approval from Moscow, Gebreel said.

Russia is also mulling joining the Western-led Libya contact group, which includes the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan, Gebreel said.

But the information cannot be confirmed from the Russian side since the delegation had left only several hours after the visit.

Margelov did not travel to the Libyan capital Tripoli after his visit to Benghazi, the stronghold of the Libyan opposition.

According to the Voice of Russia, Margelov said Russia is ready to act as a mediator in promoting an internal political dialogue in Libya as "the Libyan elite and Libyan society are split."

"Russia wants to see Libya as an independent, single, sovereign and democratic state, an integral part of the Arab world and an inalienable part of the African Union, a worthy member of the international community," he was quoted as saying. "Russia is seeking to build a bridge between these two banks that separate Libyan society."

At the recent G8 summit in France, Russian President Medvedev said he had agreed to try to mediate in the Libyan issue, and said Gadhafi's rule has lost legitimacy and he has to go. The dramatic shift of Russia's stance surprised the world and confused the Libyan government.

Russia abstained from the UN Security Council vote in March that authorized NATO-led airstrikes to stop Gadhafi's forces from attacking civilians and had been criticizing the air operation in Libya.


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