Libyan and U.S. officials say representatives from the two governments held direct talks recently, but Washington stresses that that the sole objective was to deliver a “firm” message that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must leave power.
U.S. State Department officials Monday said the one-time meeting “was not a negotiation,” but rather was intended to deliver a message. The officials said the only way to move forward is for Mr. Gadhafi to “step down.”
Earlier, Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim described the talks as “a first step dialogue.” He said the Libyan government does “not want to be stuck in the past” and would welcome further negotiations.
CNN reports that the meeting was held in Tunisia on Saturday.
Libyan officials have said previously that the Tripoli government has conducted talks with Benghazi-based anti-government rebels. But officials with the opposition Transitional National Council have denied that.
Libya’s Ibrahim said in June that Mr. Gadhafi would not consider a peace initiative that would require him to step down.