Spain says Libya sent message proposing cease-fire

AP News
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Posted: May 26, 2011 10:13 AM
Spain says Libya sent message proposing cease-fire

Spain's government said Thursday that it has received a message from Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi proposing an immediate cease-fire in his country's conflict with rebels.

But Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's office answered by saying that Spain stands by the European Union's position _ that a cease-fire would have to be credible and verifiable, and include all Libyan troops returning to their barracks and humanitarian aid being allowed throughout Libya, a government spokesman said.

In the past, the Libyan rebels' leadership council has insisted that a cease-fire would only be acceptable if Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi stepped down.

The Spanish spokesman said on condition of anonymity, in keeping with government regulations, that the cease-fire proposal also had been sent to other EU countries.

But NATO and EU nations such as France and Germany said they had not received it.

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages said, "We have no knowledge of this letter." She added: "We are hearing from all parts that officials, and of very high rank, are looking to defect, which confirms that the regime is weakening."

The British newspaper The Independent reported Thursday that it had obtained a copy of a letter al-Mahmoudi had sent to foreign governments proposing an immediate cease-fire to be monitored by the U.N. and the African Union, unconditional talks with the opposition, amnesty for both sides in the conflict, and the drafting of a new constitution.

Spain is one of the NATO allies trying to aid pro-democracy rebels fighting Gadhafi's government forces in Libya.

(This version CORRECTS Updates with France unable to confirm that it received the message. Corrects the spelling of the Libyan prime minister's name to Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi. Adds background on British newspaper report about a Libyan cease-fire offer.)