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Russia to Host Qaddafi Envoys in Bid to Negotiate Cease-Fire

Russia today hosts envoys from Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in a bid to negotiate a cease-fire in the North African country.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet with Libyan government representatives in Moscow this afternoon, his press service said. Russia plans to host a Libyan rebel delegation soon for similar talks.

“Russia is very keen to see a rapid end to the bloodshed in Libya,” Lavrov said yesterday. “We have made it clear that we are ready to support any regional and international efforts that can achieve this.”

Russia abstained from the United Nations Security Council vote in March that authorized military intervention by the U.S. and its allies in Libya to protect civilians. It has since accused the NATO-led air campaign of violating the resolution by supporting the rebels and causing civilian casualties.

Libyan rebels say that if they accept Russia’s offer of talks the only goal will be to persuade the government in Moscow to support their cause and not to strike a cease-fire agreement with Qaddafi’s forces.

“There is no Russian initiative,” Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice president of the Transitional National Council, told reporters in Benghazi yesterday. “If we think of going to Russia, it will be to explain the situation and to change the Russian position regarding the Feb. 17 revolution.”

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