Senior Tory MP calls for Gaddafi talks

Muammar Gaddafi: A wanted man
Muammar Gaddafi: A wanted man

By staff

Britain should open negotiations with Muammar Gaddafi to end the Libya conflict, Richard Ottaway has said.

The chair of the Commons' foreign affairs committee's call comes just days after the British government expelled all remaining representatives of the renegade Libyan leader from their embassy in London.

UK ministers have insisted negotiations on the future of Libya should only begin after Colonel Gaddafi has agreed to step down from power in Tripoli.

But Mr Ottaway made clear that the drawn-out nature of the conflict, which has seen western air power fail to give a decisive advantage to rebel forces, means that approach is now failing.

"We are in a stalemate situation and there's no obvious way of getting ourselves out of it," he told the Mail newspaper.

"We have got to try to tighten the political, economic and military campaign, but I think in the end it will require some kind of dialogue with the Gaddafi regime."

The government could face pressure from the Commons this autumn if the four-month-old campaign does not end by the autumn.

"We went in there to protect the people of Benghazi and we have done that," Mr Ottaway added.

"People's expectations have got ahead of them, and they see it as an offensive rather than a defensive operation."

Britain's uncompromising approach to Col Gaddafi's exit, which has seen the Foreign Office insist that he be brought before the international criminal court (ICC), has been criticised for giving the Libyan leader no other option but keep on fighting.

The ICC has issued a warrant for his arrest relating to his deliberate targeting of civilians as he sought to ruthlessly repress pro-democracy protests earlier this year.


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