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Kadhafi refuses to quit, calls for talks on conflict

30 april 2011, 15:31
0
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi delivering a televised speech. ©AFP
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi delivering a televised speech. ©AFP
Moamer Kadhafi said he will not quit power and called for negotiations with the United States and France to end the Libyan conflict, in a speech aired on television early on Saturday, AFP reports.

NATO "must abandon all hope of the departure of Moamer Kadhafi. I have no official functions to give up: I will not leave my country and will fight to the death," he said in a speech marking the centenary of a battle against Italian occupation forces.

"We are ready to talk with France and the United States, but with no preconditions," he said.

"We will not surrender, but I call on you to negotiate. If you want petrol, we will sign contracts with your companies -- it is not worth going to war over," Kadhafi said.

"Between Libyans, we can solve our problems without being attacked, so pull back your fleets and your planes," the veteran strongman said, addressing NATO directly.

He said that the rebels battling his forces "are terrorists who are not from Libya, but from Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Afghanistan," he said, adding that his people love him.

"I am sacred to the Libyan people, I am a symbol and a father to them... more sacred than the emperor of Japan is to his people," Kadhafi said.

Meanwhile, the regime threatened to attack any ships trying to enter the lifeline rebel-held port of Misrata, after tanks launched an assault on the western city some 215 kilometres (130 miles) east of Tripoli.

Misrata's port is a crucial conduit for humanitarian aid to the city of half a million people, which Kadhafi's forces have been trying to capture for more than seven weeks.

"Four tanks attacked the city and one has been destroyed so far," said rebel fighter Ibrahim Ahmed Boushagha on Friday.

NATO said three mines were found in the port early on Friday and were being disarmed.

"The mining of a civilian port by pro-Kadhafi forces is clearly designed to disrupt the lawful flow of humanitarian aid to the innocent civilian people of Libya," said Italian Navy Vice Admiral Rinaldo Veri, calling it another "deliberate violation" of UN Security Council resolutions.

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