African Union invites Libya government, opposition to talks

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2011 3:12 PM

PARIS (Reuters) - The African Union has invited representatives of Muammar Gaddafi's government, the Libyan opposition and others to talks in Addis Ababa this Friday, the union's chairman Jean Ping said.

Ping told reporters that Gaddafi wanted to send his prime minister and that officials from the European Union, United Nations Security Council, and neighboring Arab countries had also been invited to Ethiopia to discuss the Libyan crisis.

"We are convening a meeting tomorrow in Addis Ababa with the participation of both sides," he said.

Ping said Gaddafi had accepted the invitation and wanted to send his prime minister, but it was unclear whether he would be able to come given the U.N.-imposed no-fly zone over Libya.

Asked whether he was backing Gaddafi or the rebel opposition forces in the Libyan crisis, Ping replied: "The African Union has never backed anybody and we want a solution."

He said the union wanted to see a ceasefire, humanitarian assistance, protection for civilians and some kind of response to Libyans' demands for democracy.

(Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Jon Hemming)