Libyan premier says he's ready to talk to rebels

Muammar Gaddafi
Tripoli, May 27: Libya's government on Thursday, May 26 pushed a cease-fire proposal and said for the first time it was prepared to speak with its rebel adversaries, signaling that months of fighting and NATO bombardment may be closer to forcing some concessions.

Even so, the government insisted Muammar Gaddafi would not relinquish power, which he has held for more than 40 years. His departure is a key demand of the United States, European leaders and the rebels, who say they will not consider halting more than three months of fighting until Gadhafi goes.

"The leader, Muammar Gaddafi, is in the heart of every Libyan. If he leaves, the entire Libyan people leave," said Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

He told reporters in the Libyan capital today that he was willing to hold talks with "all Libyans," including members of the rebel administration based in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Officials from Gaddafi regime said before they would not speak to the rebel government, arguing that it did not represent Libyans.

Al-Mahmoudi did not outline the government's latest cease-fire proposal in detail, but emphasized that NATO must be a party to it, not just the rebels. He would not say whether the government would meet NATO's demands to return its military forces to their barracks. 


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