Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised a plan to end the conflict in Libya, after leader Muammar Qaddafi attended a funeral service for his son, who was killed during NATO’s intensifying air campaign.
“What needs to happen now is for Qaddafi to immediately withdraw from power and to bring to pass his historical, human and moral responsibility,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul today, adding that he will propose the plan during talks inRome this week, without giving details. Past attempts to mediate a settlement have failed to make headway as Libyan rebels rejected proposals that didn’t involve Qaddafi’s immediate departure.
Several thousand people attended the funeral in Tripoli today of Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Arab, 29, and three of his grandchildren killed in an April 30 NATO airstrike on the leader’s Bab al-Aziziya compound, the Associated Press reported. Anti-aircraft fire thundered in the background while mourners flashed victory signs and chanted for revenge, the AP said.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is enforcing a United Nations-mandated no-fly zone, has rejected a cease-fire offer from Qaddafi, saying his forces must stop attacks on civilians before it considers any truce. The insurgency since mid-February in Libya, which has Africa’s biggest proven crude reserves, has helped push oil prices up about 30 percent.
South Africa, which has attempted to broker a settlement to the conflict, said yesterday that attacks on leaders and officials would escalate tensions. Russia on May 1 accused NATO of a “disproportionate use of force” and called for an immediate cease-fire.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani will co-chair talks on Libya’s future in Rome on May 5. Representatives of Libya’s Transitional National Council, the interim authority set up by the rebels, will also attend.