Nato strikes Gaddafi control centre in Tripoli

Nato strikes Gaddafi control centre in Tripoli

Nato today struck a command and control centre where Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi sometimes lives. It is not know whether he was present at the time.

An alliance spokesman said the Bab al-Aziziyah compound in Tripoli was hit in the early hours.

That same compound was badly damaged by US warplanes 25 years ago in response to a bombing that had killed two US servicemen at a German disco.

Today’s strike came after leaders at a summit of G8 world powers reiterated that Gaddafi had to leave power.

The spokesman said that a vehicle storage area in the same area was hit.

The strikes were launched as Russia offered to broker a deal for the Libyan dictator to leave the country he has ruled for more than 40 years.

Yesterday’s shock proposal by a leading critic of the Nato bombing campaign reflected growing international frustration with the Libyan crisis and a desire by the Kremlin for influence in the rapidly changing Arab landscape.

With Gaddafi increasingly isolated and Nato jets intensifying their attacks, Russia may also be eyeing Libya’s oil and gas and preparing for the prospect that the lucrative Libyan market will fall into full rebel control.

“He should leave,” Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said of Gaddafi. “I proposed our mediation services to my partners. Everyone thinks that would be useful.”

The proposal thrust Mr Medvedev into the spotlight at a summit in France of Group of Eight rich nations. Talk of this year’s Arab world uprisings has dominated the summit.

Analysts question whether Russia still has any leverage over Gaddafi, and the leaders of France, Britain and Germany said there was no point in negotiating directly with the Libyan leader himself.

“If Gaddafi makes this decision, which will be beneficial for the country and the people of Libya, then it will be possible to discuss the form of his departure, what country may accept him and on what terms, and what he may keep and what he must lose,” Mr Medvedev told reporters.

Mr Medvedev said he was sending envoy Mikhail Margelov to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi immediately to start negotiating, and that talks with the Libyan government could take place later.

Mr Margelov said earlier that it was necessary to negotiate with all “reasonable” representatives of the government, including Gaddafi’s sons.

In response, Libya’s deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim said: “Russia is one of the traditional friends of Libya. ... We don’t think that Russia will sway its position to side with Nato.”

He would not say whether Gaddafi had been informed of Mr Medvedev’s proposal, but told reporters in Tripoli that the Libyan leader was constantly watching the news.

South African president Jacob Zuma is also using his party’s ties to Gaddafi to work out a peaceful outcome, heading to Libya on behalf of the African Union.

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