In Shift, Britain Says Qaddafi Could Remain in Libyahttp://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/world/europe/27libya.html?_r=1&ref=global-home
PARIS — France appeared on Tuesday to have persuaded Britain to support a shift in attitude toward Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, suggesting that he could be allowed to remain in Libya in return for giving up power in a broader deal including a cease-fire.
In talks in London late Monday, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, met his French counterpart, Alain Juppé, who said last week that “one of the scenarios” to resolve the conflict in Libya “is that he stays in Libya on one condition, which I repeat: that he very clearly steps aside from Libyan political life.”
Previously, Britain had insisted that Colonel Qaddafi leave the country as part of a settlement. That could expose him to arrest under a warrant on war crimes charges issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
But, adopting a newer formula used by the State Department in Washington, Mr. Hague said on Tuesday that “what happens to Qaddafi is ultimately a question for the Libyans.”
“What is absolutely clear is that whatever happens, Qaddafi must leave power. He must never again be able to threaten the lives of Libyan civilians nor to destabilize Libya once he has left power.”
“Obviously him leaving Libya itself would be the best way of showing the Libyan people that they no longer have to live in fear of Qaddafi,” Mr. Hague said. “But as I have said all along, this is ultimately a question for Libyans to determine.”
After Mr. Juppé raised the idea last week, an Obama administration spokesman, Jay Carney, said Colonel Qaddafi “needs to remove himself from power — and then it’s up to the Libyan people to decide.”
The shift came as NATO maintained its four-month air campaign to support Libyan rebels by hampering pro-Qaddafi forces. The latest NATO attack was reported on Tuesday with a strike the previous day against targets near the town of Zliten east of Tripoli, the capital.
Western officials, meeting in Istanbul this month, agreed to maintain military pressure until Colonel Qaddafi agrees to a cease-fire and to relinquish all power. That would pave the way for a national reconciliation government to create a new Libyan leadership.
The coalition seeking Colonel Qaddafi’s ouster embraces figures with divergent views on his future, but Colonel Qaddafi himself seems likely to see any agreement to step down as likely to put him in the same position as the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, who gave up power but was arrested with his sons by the military-led transitional government.
In London on Monday, Mr. Juppé said Britain and France were working along “exactly the same lines.”
“We think that we must continue to exert strong pressure on the Libyan regime with the same methods,” the foreign minister said.
“We are absolutely clear that at the end of the day, Qaddafi is going to have to abandon power, all military and civil responsibility, and then it will be for the Libyan people themselves to decide what his fate will be either inside Libya or outside Libya,” he said.
While pro-Qaddafi forces have continued to thwart attempts by rebels based in the east of the country to advance on Tripoli, the part of Libya under government control faces crippling shortages of fuel, food and cash, according to a United Nations fact-finding mission quoted by The Associated Press.
“Although the mission observed aspects of normalcy in Tripoli, members identified pockets of vulnerability where people need urgent humanitarian assistance,” The A.P. quoted humanitarian coordinator Laurence Hart as saying late Monday. United Nations officials concluded a week’s visit to Libya on Sunday.