CAIRO: The Arab League will not let a Libyan delegation from Tripoli attend an emergency session on Saturday but could meet the envoys outside the meeting to discuss ways to end the crisis, League officials said.
The Arab League has suspended Libya in protest at violence used on protesters against Muammar Qaddafi. Cairo airport and Libyan embassy officials said a delegation which arrived from Tripoli on Friday aimed to attend the emergency meeting.
"I don’t think that they will be allowed to attend because the decision of the council of ministers was to suspend the participation of the Libyan delegation," Hesham Youssef, the League official, told Reuters.
He added that the Arab League had not severed all ties to the Tripoli government and there was a need to discuss the crisis with Qaddafi’s administration, including the humanitarian situation and how to stop violence.
"We may meet them. But not in the context of the meeting of the council of ministers," Youssef said. "Nothing has been scheduled as of yet," he said.
"There is a need to discuss all kind of details with Libyan officials," he said. "All these steps require communication with those who control the situation in Libya," he said. Ahmed Ben Helli, deputy secretary general of the Arab League, told Reuters that "talks and consultations exist."
Youssef said the Arab League had also been in touch with the rebel National Libyan Council in Benghazi.
"We are discussing the humanitarian situation with them and the situation in general, their evaluation of how things are evolving and so on," he said. The council would not be attending the Arab League meeting either, he added.
On Thursday, France became the first Western nation to give its full backing to the National Libyan Council. It said it now regarded the council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. The European Union said it may also recognize the council if the Arab League were to do so.
Asked about the purpose of Saturday’s meeting, Youssef said: "I hope it will be a step forward in addressing issues pertaining to the protection of the Libyan people and putting an end to the bloodshed."
The Libyan embassy and Cairo airport officials said the delegation which arrived on Friday was headed by Umran Abu-Kra’a, who they identified as the minister of electricity.
It also included Salma Rashid, appointed by Qaddafi to replace the Libyan Arab League representative who was one of the many Libyan diplomats around the world to abandon the Tripoli government in protest at its handling of the uprising.
Gulf Arab states, all members of the Arab League, said on Thursday Qaddafi’s government was no longer legitimate.
The Gulf Cooperation Council called on the Arab League to take measures to stop the bloodshed in Libya, including the imposition of a no-fly zone to protect civilians.
At a March 2 meeting, Arab League ministers said they would consider the idea of imposing a no-fly zone. –Additional reporting by Dina Zayed