Qaddafi Sends Letter to Obama Urging End to Air Strikes

WASHINGTON -- Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi appealed directly to President Barack Obama on Wednesday to end what Qaddafi called "an unjust war." He also wished Obama good luck in his bid for re-election next year.

"You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action," Qaddafi wrote in a rambling, three-page letter to Obama obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I am sure that you are able to shoulder the responsibility for that."

The White House confirmed the letter, but top officials shrugged it off.

"I don't think there is any mystery about what is expected from Mr. Qaddafi at this time," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, repeating U.S. and NATO demands that Qaddafi's forces pull back and cease attacks. She also renewed a demand that Qaddafi give up his power and leave the country.

"There needs to be a cease-fire, his forces need to withdraw from the cities that they have forcibly taken at great violence and human cost," she said. "There needs to be a decision made about his departure from power and ... his departure from Libya."

Rebels and pro-government forces waged nearly stalemated battles in Libya, while a former U.S. lawmaker made an unendorsed private trip to Tripoli to try to persuade Qaddafi to step down. An Obama administration envoy continued meeting with Libyan opposition figures in the rebel-held city of Benghazi, with no decision whether to increase U.S. help for the rebels seeking Qaddafi's removal from power.

The rebels, aided by U.N.-auth frame."

Qaddafi said his country had already been unfairly subjected to "a direct military armed aggression" ordered in 1986 by then-President Ronald Reagan, who famously called the leader the "Mad Dog of the Middle East." He also wrote of earlier rounds of U.S. and international sanctions.

Although he listed a litany of complaints, Qaddafi said he bears no ill will toward Obama in the letter, which was dated April 5, 2011 in Tripoli and is signed by "Mu'aumer Qaddaffi, Leader of the Revolution."

"We have been hurt more morally (than) physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you," he wrote. "Despite all this, you will always remain our son whatever happened. We still pray that you continue to be president of the U.S.A. We Endeavour and hope that you will gain victory in the new election campaigne."

Meanwhile, former congressman Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican who has visited Libya twice before, arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday at Qaddafi's invitation. Weldon said he is on a private mission to urge the Libyan leader to step down.

The State Department dismissed the significance of Weldon's visit, saying he had been warned of the dangers of traveling to Libya, was not traveling on behalf of the administration and not carrying any message to Qaddafi from Washington.

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Associated Press writers Sebastian Abbot in Ajbadiya, Libya; Ben Hubbard in Benghazi, Libya; Jenny Barchfield in Paris and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.