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Libya Denies Russian Report On Qaddafi

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi (file photo)
Libyan officials have denied a Russian media report that Muammar Qaddafi is considering handing over power and seeking refuge abroad.

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told Reuters the report in Russia's "Kommersant" newspaper was "simply untrue."

Ibrahim said, "Qaddafi is an historical symbol, and Libyans will die to defend him."

The July 5 "Kommersant" report came a day after both South African President Jacob Zuma -- who has tried to broker a peace deal in Libya -- and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen traveled to Moscow for talks mainly on Libya.

Afterward, Zuma's office said he had asked NATO to persuade the rebel National Transitional Council to enter into talks with Tripoli.

On July 4, the Libyan government said it held talks in Italy, Norway, and Egypt with senior figures in the opposition about finding a peaceful way out of the conflict.

However, Italy denied any such negotiations took place on its soil.

Meanwhile, Qaddafi forces are reported to have heavily bombed the rebel stronghold of Misurata, with 11 rebel fighters reported killed and more than 40 wounded.

compiled from agency reports

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