By ASSOCIATED PRESS – Arab News
TRIPOLI, Libya: Representatives of Muammar Qaddafi’s embattled government held face-to-face talks with US officials in neighboring Tunisia over the weekend, a Libyan government official said Monday, describing the meeting as a first step in opening dialogue.
A US State Department official confirmed the meeting took place but said it was only to deliver a clear and firm message that Qaddafi must step down. The US official said it was not a negotiating session and no future meetings were planned.
The talks came after Friday’s decision by the United States and more than 30 other nations meeting in Istanbul to recognize the eastern-based rebels fighting Qaddafi’s government as the country’s legitimate representatives, added the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.
Libyan spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli that the talks were held Saturday in Tunisia but he refused to say which officials took part.
“This is a first step and we want to take further steps,” he said. “We don’t want to be stuck in the past; we want to move forward all the time,” he told reporters in the corridors of the hotel where foreign journalists are required to reside.
He described it as a “a first-step dialogue” to see about repairing relations between the two countries, which he said had been damaged by misinformation. read more