Libyan rebels fighting to topple Moammar Gadhafi’s government say a representative of the Libyan leader offered to hold talks with rebel leadership, but the offer was rejected.
A rebel spokesman said Tuesday that an offer had been made, but said the rebels will not negotiate with Gadhafi. Representatives of Gadhafi have not commented on such a proposal.
On Monday, members of the rebel-led governing council in Benghazi rejected an appeal for dialogue by former Libyan Prime Minister Jadallah al-Talhi. They said no peace talks are possible unless Gadhafi steps down.
In the appeal aired on state television, Talhi, who served as Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations in 2008, asked the rebels to give negotiations a chance in order to resolve the crisis and help stop the bloodshed.
Pro-Gadhafi forces continued their counter-offensive against rebels Tuesday, launching at least one new airstrike on the oil port of Ras Lanuf, after several attacks the previous day.
Gadhafi loyalists have been trying to prevent the rebels from advancing toward the capital, Tripoli.
The Libyan leader remains in control of Tripoli, his main power base in the country’s west, as well as his hometown of Sirte, 500 kilometers east of the capital. He has vowed a fight to the death against opposition fighters who last month launched an uprising against his 42-year rule.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Talhi’s appeal is part of an effort by reform-minded government officials to push a plan calling for Gadhafi to cede power to a council of technocrats who could shepherd a transition to democratic reforms.
But in an interview with the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya, one of Gadhafi’s sons said Libya would descend into civil war if his father stepped down. Saadi Gadhafi warned the country would turn into a new Somalia.