The Associated Press reports from the cutting edge of global diplomacy to tell us that “representatives of Moammar Qaddafi’s embattled government held face-to-face talks with U.S. officials in neighboring Tunisia over the weekend.”
The State Department confirms this meeting took place, “but said it was only to deliver a clear and firm message that Qaddafi must step down.” Funny, I thought the NATO bombs showering Tripoli sent that message. I guess it can’t hurt to repeat it one more time, without the distracting sound of buildings exploding.
The Libyans are upbeat about the discussion in Tunisia:
Libyan spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli that the talks were held Saturday in Tunisia but he refused to say which officials took part.
“This is a first step and we want to take further steps,” he said. “We don’t want to be stuck in the past; we want to move forward all the time,” he told reporters in the corridors of the hotel where foreign journalists are required to reside.
He described it as a “a first-step dialogue” to see about repairing relations between the two countries, which he said had been damaged by misinformation.
Hmm, nothing in there about Qaddafi “stepping down.” Unless the “misinformation” is that he really isn’t the bloodthirsty dictator running Libya. Boy, wouldn’t that be embarrassing!
These talks came after the United States, and other nations, decided to formally recognize the Libyan rebels as the legitimate government, which is supposed to drive home the point that Qaddafi will never be viewed as the rightful ruler again.
The situation on the ground is rather less encouraging, as bloody rocket battles lit up the usual quagmires. Addressing the continuing struggle for control of a vital port city, the same Qaddafi spokesman said, “We will turn Brega into hell. We will not give up Brega even if it causes the death of thousands of rebels and the destruction of the city.”
God, that guy sounds totally “stuck in the past.” It’s going to be tough to “move forward all the time” when the government is showering the desert with dead Libyans and land mines.