Qaddafi envoy seeks exit to crisis, says Greece

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, right, shakes hands with Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Abdel Ati al-Obeidi, in Athens, April 3, 2011. AP/Vassilis Filis, Greek Prime Minister's office

ATHENS, Greece - The Libyan government is seeking a way out of the crisis, with an envoy of Muammar Qaddafi meeting with the Greek prime minister in Athens on Sunday and due to head to Turkey and Malta as part of efforts to find a solution, Greek officials said.

Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi, a former Libyan prime minister who has served as a Qaddafi envoy during the recent crisis and is now acting foreign minister, held talks with Prime Minister George Papandreou Sunday night following a request by the Libyan prime minister.

"From the Libyan envoy's comments it appears that the regime is seeking a solution," Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said in a statement after the meeting.

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Few other details of the talks were released publicly. Droutsas said al-Obeidi was to continue his talks with contacts in Turkey on Monday and then with Malta.

A Greek government official said diplomatic efforts included seeking how a cease-fire could be arranged, but described the situation as "very difficult" and said there was "a lot of mistrust on both sides."

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the contents of the talks, said Greece was seeking solutions that could "help the first step" and that the "channels of communication" would remain open.

Greece, which is both a European Union and NATO member, has traditionally had good relations with Libya and Qaddafi, whom Papandreou visited last summer. Another Libyan envoy had visited Athens in March and held talks at the Foreign Ministry before a European Union meeting that month to discuss the crisis.

"It is necessary for there to be a serious effort for peace, for stability in the region. Greece will continue in this effort to offer its good services," Droutsas said in his statement, adding that Greece would inform its international partners about Sunday's talks and Greece's proposals.

The foreign minister said the Greek side stressed "the clear message of the international community: the full respect and implementation of the United Nations decisions, an immediate cease-fire, an end to violence and hostilities, particularly against the civilian population of Libya."

Papandreou's office said Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi requested al-Obeidi's visit during a phone conversation Saturday. Papandreou also discussed the Libyan crisis with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jabr al-Thani on Saturday and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.

On Friday, al-Obeidi had said Qaddafi's government was attempting to hold talks with the U.S., Britain and France to find a way out of the crisis. Speaking on British television from Tripoli, he had said the government was reaching out to those leading the international military campaign in an attempt to halt airstrikes against regime targets which began March 19.

Al-Obeidi was involved last month in Qaddafi-sanctioned negotiations with the African Union.

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