We are trying to find a mutual solution: ex-Premier

The Qadhafi regime has initiated a concerted effort to open lines of communication with western governments to bring the conflict in the country to an end.

As fighting continues in Libya, the former Prime Minister, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, told the UK Channel 4 TV station: “We are trying to talk to the British, the French and the Americans to stop the killing of people. We are trying to find a mutual solution.” Mr. Obeidi's indication of the increased effort to make contact with western governments comes as opposition leaders in the rebels' de facto capital of Benghazi laid out their own conditions for a ceasefire. The initiatives on both sides appear to reflect an emerging stalemate between the forces and a growing weariness of fighting.

Mr. Obeidi's comments followed his confirmation that a meeting had taken place between a senior aide to Mr. Qadhafi's influential son Saif al-Islam and British officials on Wednesday in London, as revealed by the Guardian.

Mohammed Ismail's meeting with U.K. officials was also confirmed by a friend of his in Tripoli.

Mr. Ismail is a key fixer in the Qadhafi regime who has been used by the Qadhafi family to negotiate arms deals and he has considerable contacts in the west.

It has also emerged that British officials have been in contact with a number of Libyan officials, including Mr. Ismail, in recent weeks in behind-the-scenes diplomacy, according to a spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron who declined to give specific details.

The disclosure that private conversations have been going on between western officials and their Libyan counterparts, even as the same governments have been bombing Libyan troops on the ground, have come in the wake of the defection of Mr. Qadhafi's most senior ally to the U.K. earlier this week, the former Foreign Minister and Intelligence chief Moussa Koussa.

The comments made by Mr. Obeidi, an influential former diplomat who was a key negotiator of Libya's renunciation of its nuclear weapons programme, appear to verify claims made by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton that she was aware that people close to Mr. Mr. Qadhafi were attempting to make contact.

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011

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