Russian envoy plans trip to Tripoli after meeting Libyan rebel leaders

AFP Photo / Saeed Khan
The Russian president’s special envoy to Africa, Mikhail Margelov, intends to visit Tripoli in the nearest future. The announcement was made after Margelov traveled to Benghazi and met with leaders of the Libyan opposition.

­At a press conference held in Moscow on Friday, Margelov said he was ready to fly to Tripoli at any moment and all that was needed was permission from NATO forces that are currently imposing a no-flight regime over the country. He said that he had already negotiated a schedule of meetings with officials from Muammar Gaddafi’s administration but had not been instructed to meet Gaddafi himself.  “The plane is ready, I wait for NATO to open a corridor and to give me the IFF code,” the Russian official said.

Margelov told reporters that he thought that only after his visit to Tripoli “a certain political mosaic would fall in place which will give us the ability to draw conclusions on Djamaheriya. He also added that he had an impression that “all conclusions were of preliminary character”.

Margelov repeated Russia’s stance earlier voiced by President Dmitry Medvedev that Colonel Gaddafi has lost both the moral and legal right to be the leader of the Libyan nation after he ordered military aircraft to bomb his own people.

At the same time, he said that the meeting with Gaddafi was possible, if the envoy receives all necessary instructions. “I do not object to such a meeting in principle … I have met Gaddafi earlier and I see no problem here,” Margelov said. 

The envoy also said that after the visit, Moscow would be ready to present the general roadmap plan for the Libyan settlement while at the moment of the conference the officials were contemplating over positions and collecting the material.

On June 7, Margelov visited the Libyan city of Benghazi – the main base of rebels who oppose Colonel Gaddafi’s rule. Shortly afterwards he met Gaddafi’s cousin Ahmed Qazaf ad-Dam who had defected to the opposition camp and fled to Egypt. The Russian official said that the rebels were not planning any revenge on Gaddafi or his officials but were firm in their decision that the regime in the country must change. Apart from that, the rebels assured him that the new government would honor all contracts with foreign companies and governments, including Russia.

Russia abstained in the UN Security Council vote on the resolution authorizing the use of force in Libya, but president Medvedev amended the Russian legislation in accordance with the resolution, banning the sales of arms to Libya and also refusing Gaddafi and his close circle the right to enter the Russian Federation. Speaking at the G8 summit in late May, Medvedev said that Gaddafi had exhausted his legitimacy and must go. At the same time, Russian officials have repeatedly criticized the resolution and warned that it could lead to a lengthy war with numerous casualties.

Representatives of Gaddafi’s government and the rebels’ supreme body, the National Transitional Council, visited Moscow in May and held talks with the Russian foreign minister.