World

Chávez the Mediator? Libya Says Yes

Hugo Chávez offered to mediate the growing turmoil in Libya earlier this week and now it appears that Libya has accepted the Venezuelan president's offer.

Moammar Gadhafi's government has authorized Venezuela to select countries for an effort to mediate an end to Libya's crisis and to coordinate the effort, Venezuela's foreign minister said Friday.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said he received a message from his Libyan counterpart authorizing Venezuela to "take all measures necessary to select the members and coordinate their participation in that dialogue."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who calls Gadhafi a friend and ally, has proposed creating a group of "friendly countries" to encourage dialogue that would peacefully resolve the conflict.

Gadhafi's opponents in Libya, however, have shown no willingness to negotiate as long as he remains in power.

Countries including the U.S. and Italy also have been cool to Chávez's proposal.

The idea won support Friday from the foreign ministers of Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia as well as from other officials representing Nicaragua, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They joined Maduro in Caracas for a meeting of nations belonging to the Venezuela-led Bolivarian Alternative bloc, or ALBA.

Chavez said Thursday night that Gadhafi had accepted his suggestion for a mediation commission.

Chavez has accused the United States of exaggerating events in Libya to try to justify an invasion motivated by oil.

Maduro stressed Friday that Venezuela opposes any military intervention in Libya. He did not mention the Libyan government's crackdown on civilian protesters, which has drawn condemnation from other nations.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez praised Chavez's proposal and called on supporters to work on building "an international movement ... against a NATO military intervention in Libya and in Arab countries."

The United States and its European allies are trying to prepare world public opinion for "a military intervention there with humanitarian pretexts," Rodriguez said.

Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, said his government supports Chavez's proposal or any other proposal that would lead to dialogue and a peaceful outcome of the 2 1/2-week-old uprising.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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