Russia called to mediate in Libya-Medvedev spox

Reuters News
Posted: May 26, 2011 4:48 PM
Russia called to mediate in Libya-Medvedev spox

DEAUVILLE, France (Reuters) - Russia, a critic of NATO's military campaign in Libya, said Thursday that its Western partners in the Group of Eight had asked it to take on a mediation role in resolving the crisis.

It was unclear, however, whether President Dmitry Medvedev would undertake such mediation and officials from other G8 delegations at a summit in France declined immediate comment.

"(Medvedev's) partners in all bilateral meetings called on Russia to assume a mediation mission in Libya," the Russian president's spokeswoman, Natalia Timakova, told reporters.

She not say how, or whether, Russia had responded.

Medvedev held bilateral meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy during the G8's annual summit, which will wind up Friday.

In response to the Russian comments a G8 diplomatic source said: "We must have not heard the same thing."

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent U.N. Security Council member, abstained from a March vote on the resolution to set up a no-fly zone over Libya, allowing it to pass. But since then has been critical of the Western air campaign and called for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict.

NATO countries, led by France and Britain, are bombing Libya under the U.N. mandate to protect civilians as Muammar Gaddafi's army battles rebel forces intent on ending the Libyan leader's 41-year rule.

Russia's ambassador to France Alexander Orlov told Reuters Wednesday that Moscow was ready to play the role of mediator if other countries were ready, but that there had to be a ceasefire first.

Separately, Timakova said Medvedev also took a swipe at what he called "euro-centrism" within the International Monetary Fund, which is in the process of selecting a new head, and urged more weight for emerging market nations at the Fund.

"President Medvedev thinks BRICS countries should be better represented in the IMF, there is a certain euro-centrism (in this organization)," she said.

Earlier Thursday, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told reporters in Moscow, that the BRICS -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- still had to agree on a candidate to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as IMF head.

He said Russia still backed Grigory Marchenko, the head of the Kazakhstan central bank, but suggested Moscow's position could shift.