No provocations in Libya standoff, says Egyptian FM

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MALABO: The situation in Libya should not be provoked amid efforts to find a political solution to the conflict, Egypt’s foreign minister said Thursday when asked about France’s weapons drop to rebels.

“What we need is not to escalate the situation. What we need is to try to create a conducive atmosphere for a peaceful settlement,” Foreign Minister Egyptian Mohamed El-Orabi said.

“It is a difficult process, many parties are involved. We should not provoke any party, we should try to have a conducive atmosphere for the settlement,” he told reporters as an African Union summit sought consensus on its plan to end the conflict.

The 53-nation grouping has been critical of NATO’s air strikes campaign against forces for Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi with France’s announcement Wednesday that it had sent the rebels weapons also raising eyebrows.

The AU has also not joined public calls for Qaddafi to step down, a key demand for the rebel authority which earlier rejected the union’s roadmap unless the long-time leader agreed to leave power.

“This kind of internal conditions — it is up to the two parties in Libya,” El-Orabi said, adding this was not a decision for the African Union. “The conditions are subject to negotiations between the two sides,” he said.

A way out for Qaddafi is believed to be one of the main sticking points in the African Union’s position on Libya. African Union leaders met in closed session late into Thursday after opening their summit in the morning.

“The spirit here is that we want space for the political solution,” El-Orabi told AFP.

Libya also needed humanitarian assistance and for civilian casualties to end, he said.

African leaders were “united for a political solution, this is the main thrust,” he said.

El-Orabi has been in the post of foreign minister for about a week as Egypt seeks to re-establish itself after an uprising this year toppled Hosni Mubarak, following one that ended the 23-year rule of Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

El-Orabi said the governments of Tunisia and Egypt needed time and assistance to recover after their uprisings.

“We should give some time to the governments to reorder their house and then we will see some fruits,” he said. “What we need as a government is just a chance to revive the economy.” –AFP



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