U.S. backs Russia role in Libya crisis: White House

Reuters News
Posted: May 27, 2011 12:59 PM
U.S. backs Russia role in Libya crisis: White House

WARSAW (Reuters) - The United States believes Russia can help resolve the Libya crisis and will liaise with Moscow on the issue, a White House official said on Friday, shortly after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev offered to mediate.

President Barack Obama and Medvedev discussed the Libya crisis on Thursday on the sidelines of a summit of Group of Eight nations in France.

"There was agreement about what needs to happen in Libya and we believe Russia has a role to play going forward as a close partner of ours," U.S. deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters flying with Obama to Poland.

"There's an agreement that the Libyan people deserve a better future and we are going to be in close touch with the Russians as they pursue their conversations with the Libyans. We are going to continue to share information on this," he said.

A NATO coalition led by France and Britain has been bombing Muammar Gaddafi's army bases since March, under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians caught up in a battle with rebel forces intent on ending the Libyan ruler's 41-year rule.

Medvedev has joined Western powers in calling on Gaddafi to give up power and said Moscow would not give him shelter though other countries might.

Obama wants to discuss ways of helping Arab reformers in Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere during talks in Warsaw on Friday evening with the presidents of Poland and nearly 20 other, mostly ex-communist countries in central Europe.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Maria Golovnina)