Gaddafi removal not being discussed - Tripoli

Muammar Gaddafi (April 2011 picture) Muammar Gaddafi is holding Tripoli and other parts of western Libya

Libya's foreign minister has denied that Col Muammar Gaddafi's removal was being considered in efforts to end the country's conflict.

"Gaddafi's departure is not being discussed," Abdelati Obeidi told reporters after talks in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Last week France said it had been contacted by Libyan envoys saying Col Gaddafi leader was prepared to leave.

Meanwhile fighting has continued between pro-Gaddafi and rebel forces.

There were fierce clashes on Wednesday near the eastern town of Brega - an important oil centre that has changed hands several times during the five-month-old conflict.

In western Libya, rebel forces in Misrata say Nato air support has allowed them to advance further against government forces.

Russia has been trying to mediate a deal to end the conflict.

After Wednesday's talks in Moscow, Mr Obeidi said the Libyan government wanted to end the conflict with rebels seeking to end Col Gaddafi's 41-year rule.

"We must all work on a peaceful solution in which all Libyans would participate and not just the council in Benghazi," he said, referring to the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) based in the city of Benghazi.

The rebels are holding eastern Libya and pockets in the west, but have so far not made decisive moves towards the capital Tripoli.

On 12 July, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said: "The Libyan regime is sending messengers everywhere, to Turkey, to New York, to Paris" offering to discuss Col Gaddafi's exit.

But he added that such contacts did not constitute negotiations.

France played a key role in launching Nato-led strikes in Libya, under a UN-mandated mission to protect civilians.

Coalition countries have insisted that the Libyan leader must stand down for hostilities to end.

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