Diplomats discuss Libya’s future as Italy plots Gaddafi’s escape route

The Guardian reports:

Efforts appear to be under way to offer Muammar Gaddafi a way of escape from Libya, with Italy saying it is trying to organise an African haven for him, and the US signalling it will not try to stop the dictator from fleeing.

The move came as diplomatic and military pressure on Gaddafi mounts as Britain tries to assemble a global consensus demanding he surrender power while intensifying air strikes against his forces.

Britain will be hosting an international conference including the UN, Arab states, the African Union, and more than 40 foreign ministers, focused on coordinating assistance in the face of a possible humanitarian disaster, and building a unified international front in condemnation of the Gaddafi regime and in support of a Nato-led military action in Libya.

On the eve of the London conference, Italy offered to broker a ceasefire deal in Libya, involving asylum for Gaddafi in an African country. “Gaddafi must understand that it would be an act of courage to say: ‘I understand that I have to go’,” said the Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini. “We hope that the African Union can find a valid proposal.”

A senior American official signalled that a solution in which Gaddafi flee to a country beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is investigating war crimes charges against him, would be acceptable to Washington, pointing out that Barack Obama had repeatedly called on Gaddafi to leave.

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