Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has offered to negotiate with NATO and foreign troops to end alliance airstrikes against his country, but rejected calls for him to step down.
Libyan leader Gadhafi says stepping down is not an option
Moammar Gadhafi said on Saturday that he was willing to take part in talks with the US, France and NATO with the goal of ending the alliance's airstrikes in Libya. The Libyan leader refused, however, to consider one of the Libyan rebels' key conditions, saying in his live speech on state television that he would never give up power.
"No one can persuade me to leave my country, and no one can tell me that I should not fight for my country," he said. "I have no official function to give up. I will not leave my country and will fight to the death."
NATO however, dismissed Gadhafi's offer to start peace talks, saying the Libyan regime had announced ceasefires several times in the past but always continued attacking rebel troops and civilians.
No talks unless fighting stops, NATO says
The alliance said it wanted the Libyan government forces to end their attacks before it considers Gadhafi’s ceasefire offer.
NATO and several western nations have been involved in a military mission to protect the rebels in Libya for just less than five weeks, after Gadhafi's security forces began a brutal crackdown against protests against his 41-year regime.
The opposition Interim Transitional National Council, based in the rebel-held city of Misrata, has said it would not consider a ceasefire unless Gadhafi steps down. Western governments have similarly said they would not end their mission as long as Gadhafi remains in power.
Author: Holly Fox (AFP, dpa, AP)
Editor: Andreas Illmer