· But according to Prime Minister Fillon, a political solution begins to take shape ·
A double all-clear from the French Parliament to extend the military mission in Libya, under NATO command, after the National Assembly and the Parisian Senate approved the motion. In the lower house, the votes in favor were 482 to 27 opposed and a similar result in the upper house with 311 in favor and 24 opposed. The decision of the National Assembly has been criticized by the Libyan Government’s spokesman, Mussa Ibrahim. French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon pleaded the cause of military intervention in front of deputies and announced that a political solution was “taking shape” in these hours. At the same time, the Prime Minister of Tripoli hypothesized “unconditional” negotiations, especially without Gheddafi.
“Our cause is just,” said Fillon, “and because it is just, the government and parliament do not tremble before this responsibility.” The French Prime Minister recognized that “the use of armed forces is always fraught with consequences,” but he underscored that, “the military situation is continually evolving in the right direction,” since that day on March 19th when France was the first to take the initiative to send its Mirages into Libyan skies. Fillon also underscored that Paris supported the efforts at mediation begun by Russia and the African Union and reminded parliament that the Africans, “on the occasion of their most recent summit confirmed,” that Gheddafi, “cannot take part in the process of political transition.”
There has been much talk about the future of the Libyan leader and in particular his exit from the bunker in Tripoli. On Monday, his son, Seif Al Islam, spoke of “negotiations” underway with France, rather than with the rebels. The Quai d’Orsay flatly denied the statement, but yesterday, French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe’, for the first time admitted that while proper negotiations were not underway, there has been “contact.” “We receive emissaries,” the head of Parisian diplomacy said, “who tell us that Gheddafi is ready to go, let’s talk about it.” The French Foreign minister’s words found an echo of possibility in those of the Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Al Mahmoudi. In the meantime, the Minister for Defense, Gerard Longuet, let it be known that so far, their Libyan involvement has cost France 104 million euros, as well as at least another 60 million for materials.
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