Image: Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali Al Mahmoudi.
Hrvoje Polan  /  AFP - Getty Images, file
"The future of Libya will be radically different to the one that existed three months ago," Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi reportedly states in a letter to Western leaders.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 5/26/2011 9:07:34 PM ET 2011-05-27T01:07:34

Libya's government pushed a cease-fire proposal Thursday and said for the first time it was prepared to speak with its rebel adversaries, signaling that months of fighting and NATO bombardment may be closer to forcing some concessions.

Even so, the government insisted Moammar Gadhafi would not relinquish power, which he has held for more than 40 years. His departure is a key demand of the United States, European leaders and the rebels, who say they will not consider halting more than three months of fighting until Gadhafi goes.

"The leader, Moammar Gadhafi, is in the heart of every Libyan. If he leaves, the entire Libyan people leave," said Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

He told reporters in the Libyan capital Thursday that he was willing to hold talks with "all Libyans," including members of the rebel administration based in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Officials from Gadhafi's regime said before they would not speak to the rebel government, arguing that it did not represent Libyans.

Still, there is no mention of Gadhafi's fate in the country's future in a letter sent to foreign governments, according to The Independent of Britain.

Instead, the letter puts forward the idea of a cease-fire for both sides overseen by the United Nations and African Union, unconditional talks with rebels and a new constitution, the paper reported.

Fighting between Gadhafi's forces and rebels has reached a stalemate, despite two months of NATO aerial support under a U.N. mandate intended to protect civilians. Gadhafi denies that his troops target civilians and says the rebels are criminals, religious extremists and members of al-Qaida.

Story: Libyans ask: Where are Misrata's missing?

The letter by al-Mahmoudi obtained by the Independent states:

"The future Libya will be radically different to the one that existed three months ago. That was always the plan. Only now we may need to accelerate the process. But to do so, we must stop the fighting, start talking, agree on a new constitution and create a system of government that both reflects the reality of our society and conforms to the demands of contemporary governance."

Gadhafi's government has made a number of cease-fire proposals since NATO's involvement while allowing the fighting to continue unabated.

Story: Obama to UK Parliament: 'The time for our leadership is now'

Also Thursday, three rebel fighters were killed and 20 others wounded in clashes with government forces near the western city of Misrata, said Dr. Mustafa Taha from the city's central Hikma Hospital. It was unclear if any government soldiers died in the clash, about 14 miles west of the city, the only one under rebel control near Tripoli.

Late Thursday, at least five explosions were heard in Tripoli from NATO airstrikes. The targets were not immediately identified. Libyan gunners aimed anti-aircraft fire at the planes. Smoke was seen rising from the area of Gadhafi's compound, a frequent target of NATO airstrikes.

In London, a person with knowledge of the situation said Britain has agreed in principle to supply Apache attack helicopters to the NATO effort. The person insisted on anonymity because no announcement was made. France has agreed to supply attack helicopters, which could hit pinpoint targets more easily than planes but would also be vulnerable to ground fire.

Al-Mahmoudi did not outline the government's latest cease-fire proposal in detail, but emphasized that NATO must be a party to it, not just the rebels. He would not say whether the government would meet NATO's demands to return its military forces to their barracks.

"Libya is serious about a cease-fire. But that means a halt for all parties, in particular NATO," al-Mahmoudi said. "Any cease-fire needs its own special arrangements between technical and military people. Everything will be discussed once we have a cease-fire," al-Mahmoudi said.

The White House dismissed the proposal as not credible.

U.S. deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said such offers must be backed up by action. He said the Libyan government is not complying with the U.N. resolution that authorized the international military operation to protect the Libyan people from forces loyal to Gadhafi.

He said the effort to drive Gadhafi from power would continue.

The U.N. resolution called for an immediate cease-fire. The Gadhafi government unilaterally announced several truces in the past but did not adhere to them. Libyan officials argue they cannot conduct a one-sided cease-fire and say all parties — NATO and the rebels included — must simultaneously halt their fire.

Al-Mahmoudi sent the letter to European governments seeking their backing for the latest proposal.

One of the nations that received it, Spain, responded by saying that it and the rest of the 27-nation European Union are insisting Gadhafi's government take certain steps first, a Spanish government spokesman said on Thursday. He did not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with government rules.

Spain is one of the NATO allies taking part in the international air campaign in support of the rebels.

Libya's rebel administration repeated its insistence that before any cease-fire can be considered, Gadhafi's regime must respond to demands in the U.N. resolution.

Besides a cease-fire, the resolution calls for an end to attacks on civilians, unimpeded access for humanitarian assistance and talks on a solution that responds to "the legitimate demands of the Libyan people."

Nevertheless, the rebels appeared to welcome the diplomatic movement.

The deputy leader of the rebel's National Transitional Council, Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, said that "political processes are under way to negotiate ways for his (Gadhafi's) exit, so in our opinion it is a matter of time for this process to come to a critical conclusion."

Asked about missing American journalist Matthew VanDyke, the Libyan prime minister said he was not in the government's custody and he had no other information.

The 31-year-old freelance reporter from Baltimore last spoke with his family March 12, saying he was heading to the eastern oil town of Brega.

"All journalists that were in our custody and detention have been released," al-Mahmoudi said. "There are no journalists detained or imprisoned in Libyan custody. If he is in another place — God knows — but with us, we have no journalists."

Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Released journalist recalls detainment in Libya

  1. Closed captioning of: Released journalist recalls detainment in Libya

    >>> story of journalist clare gillis. she was on her first assignment as a journalist in libya when she was captured and held 44 days before she was released a week ago along with some other jourmists. she joins us exclusively. good morning to you.

    >> good morning.

    >> first, welcome back. second of all, you are a ph.d. in medieval history .

    >> yes.

    >> you go to libya on your first reporting assignment, your first time in a war zone . what were you doing there?

    >> well, you know, you could say the middle east is kind of medieval in some senses. this is a joke we make. what was i doing there? i had been studying history from a distance of 1,000 years for a number of years to write my dissertation. i was really excited to see what looked like pro democracy uprising in the middle east which is a region people have been so used to seeing autocracy and corruption there. to see this historical change happen in front of my eyes it seemed a precious opportunity and one that i was, in fact, in a certain way well trained for. it's the same basic procedure. things happen. you consult all the sources or consult all the people who saw it and put the stories together to figure out what happened and what's the logic of the story people tell themselves.

    >> on the day you were captured you went with your fellow -- most freelance journalists.

    >> three others, yes.

    >> you were with a contingent -- a rebel contingent in their vehicle. you went toward brega. what happened?

    >> we sent our taxi back to benghazi when we got to the first or second checkpoint. then we rode with different rebel cars. you know, they're on the highway preparing the counter offensive, preparing to attack or just having tea, having some breakfast. we spoke to them and rode with them for a while. then we got out of the car again and we were given the information that gadhafi's ground troops were 300 meters up the road. we just looked at each other and thought, no way. they're not. we don't trust the information. the fact is they have such long range missiles that they have been clearing out rebels to advance on the ground.

    >> the rebels you rode with left you.

    >> they left, yes.

    >> you were running because you knew at one point they were coming.

    >> we heard shooting coming from behind. we saw the rebel cars, you know, book out of there and then we saw more trucks behind them shooting. that's when we ran into the desert to take cover in the very sparse trees ahead.

    >> one of your group, anton hemeril. you saw him shot.

    >> yes. we heard him call out "help." we knew he'd been hit. jim called out, "are you okay"? he said, "no".

    >> you knew how serious it was.

    >> it was the way people talk about it. it was like it was in a movie and i was watching the movie happen. i heard anton , you know, that he was hurt. there was still shooting all around us. the bullets were flying over our heads. we were flying flat in the sand. when the truck pulled up jim stopped and said stop, press, press. they stopped shooting but started hitting us, dragging us into the car. i looked down at anton as i got in the car and i just saw him with a very severe wound and a lot of blood. i just -- i have no words for that moment.

    >> he was left behind for 44 days.

    >> yes.

    >> you were held in captivity.

    >> yes.

    >> at times you had a tv, at times you had a computer.

    >> yes.

    >> i know your greatest fear was being assaulted sexually. you were not.

    >> my greatest fear was that for the first, about eight hours. while we were being held just with soldiers guarding us i figured that was the danger zone for something like that to happen. once we were transferred to a military facility and put in cells, i wasn't so worried about that anymore.

    >> we're glad you're safe and we're glad you got to have the burger.

    >> thank you very much.

Photos: Libya's uprising against Gadhafi

loading photos...
  1. People gathering in Benghazi, Libya in mid-February of 2011 as protest against the rule of Moammar Gadhafi grew, in part triggered by the arrest of human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. EDITOR'S NOTE: The content, date and location of this image could not be independently verified. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Buildings at the entrance to a security forces compound burn in Benghazi, Feb. 21, 2011. Libyan protesters celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, claiming control of the country's second largest city after bloody fighting, and anti-government unrest spread to the capital with clashes in Tripoli's main square for the first time. (Alaguri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks on state television. Feb. 22, and signalled his defiance over a mounting revolt against his 41-year rule. (Libya TV via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Libyan U.N. ambassador Shalgham is embraced by Dabbashi, Libya's deputy U.N. Ambassador after denouncing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for the first time during a Security Council meeting at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Feb. 25. Shalgam, a longtime friend and member of Gadhafi's inner circle, had previously refused to denounce Gadhafi. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Thousands of Libyans gather for the Muslim Friday prayers outside the courthouse in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb. 25, 2011. Perhaps 8,000 people gathered for the midday prayers with a local imam, who delivered his sermon alongside the coffins of three men killed in the violent uprising that routed Gadhafi loyalists from Benghazi. (Gianluigi Guercia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Rebels hold a young man at gunpoint, who they accuse of being a loyalist to Gadhafi, between the towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf, March 3, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Pro-Gadhafi soldiers and supporters gather in Green Square in Tripoli, March 6, 2011. Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters poured into the streets of Tripoli, waving flags and firing their guns in the air in the Libyan leader's main stronghold, claiming overnight military successes. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Rebel fighters jump away from shrapnel during heavy shelling by forces loyal to Gadhafi near Bin Jawad, March 6. Rebels in east Libya regrouped and advanced on Bin Jawad after Gadhafi forces ambushed rebel fighters and ejected them from the town earlier in the day. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Libyan rebel fighters take cover as a bomb dropped by an airforce fighter jet explodes near a checkpoint on the outskirts of the oil town of Ras Lanuf on March 7, 2011. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Libyan rebels fire rockets at government troops on the frontline. March 9, 2011 near Ras Lanuf. The rebels pushed back government troops westward towards Ben Jawat. (John Moore / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Libyan government soldiers aboard tanks at the west gate of the town Ajdabiyah March 16, 2011. Libya's army pounded an opposition-held city in the country's west and battled fighters trying to block its advance on a rebel bastion in the east amid flagging diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed. EDITOR'S NOTE: Picture taken on a government guided tour. (Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Libyan people in Benghazi celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, March 18. Thousands of Libyans erupted in cheers as the news flashed on a giant screen in besieged Benghazi late March 17. After weeks of discussion, the UN Security Council banned flights in Libya's airspace and authorized "all necessary means" to implement the ban, triggering intervention by individual countries and organizations like NATO. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A picture combo shows a Libyan jet bomber crashing after being apparently shot down in Benghazi on March 19, 2011 as the Libyan rebel stronghold came under attack. Air strikes and sustained shelling of the city's south sent thick smoke into the sky. (Patrick Baz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Residents of Benghazi flee the city along the road toward Tobruk, in an attempt to escape fighting in their city, March 19, 2011. Gaddafi's troops pushed into the outskirts of Benghazi, a city of 670,000 people, in an apparent attempt to pre-empt Western military intervention expected after a meeting of Western and Arab leaders in Paris. (Reuters TV) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Gadhafi explode after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A rebel fighter carries his weapon outside the northeastern Libyan town of Ajdabiyah, March 21, 2011. A wave of air strikes hit Gaddafi's troops around Ajdabiyah, a strategic town in the barren, scrub of eastern Libya that rebels aim to retake and where their fighters said they need more help. (Finbarr O'reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A Libyan rebel prays next to his gun on the frontline of the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, March 21, 2011. The international military intervention in Libya is likely to last "a while," a top French official said, echoing Moammar Gadhafi's warning of a long war ahead as rebels, energized by the strikes on their opponents. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Libyan rebels retreat as mortars from Gadhafi's forces are fired on them near the outskirts of the city of Ajdabiya, March 22, 2011. Coalition forces bombarded Libya for a third straight night, targeting the air defenses and forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi, stopping his advances and handing some momentum back to the rebels, who were on the verge of defeat. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A Libyan man is comforted by hospital staff as he reacts after identifying his killed brother in the morgue of the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi, March 22, 2011. His brother was killed earlier in fighting around the city of Ajdabiya. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Volunteer fighters training at a rebel army training camp in Benghazi, March 29, 2011. Pro-government forces intensified their attacks on Libyan rebels, driving them back over ground they had taken in recent days. The rebels had reached Nawfaliya, but pulled back to Bin Jawad. (Manu Brabo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Smoke billows as seven explosions were reported in the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moammar Gadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura. Two explosions also rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011, as NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital. (Mahmud Turkia / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A Libyan rebel urges people to leave, as shelling from Gadhafi's forces started landing on the frontline outside of Bin Jawaad, 93 miles east of Sirte, March 29, 2011. (Anja Niedringhaus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. General Abdel-Fattah Younis, former interior minister in the Gadhafi regime who defected in the early days of the uprising, is greeted by Libyan rebels at the front line near Brega, April 1, 2011. (Altaf Qadri / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Libyan men show the V-sign for victory as they stand on the deck of a Turkish ship arriving from Misrata to the port of Benghazi who were evacuated along with others the injured in the fighting between rebel and Gadhafi forces, April 03, 2011. The Turkish vessel took hundreds of people wounded in the Libyan uprising for treatment in Turkey from the two cities of Misrata and Benghazi. (Mahmud Hams / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A wounded prisoner from Gadhafi's forces is transported in the back of a pickup truck by rebels, on the way to a hospital for treatment, half way between Brega and Ajdabiya, April 9, 2011. Rebels say they took two prisoners after a clash with soldiers near Brega's university outside the government-controlled oil facilities, marking a noticeable advance by rebels. (Ben Curtis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. In this image taken from TV, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi makes a pubic appearance in Tripoli, April 14 2011. Gadhafi defiantly waved at his supporters while being driven around Tripoli while standing up through the sunroof of a car. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A rebel fighter celebrates as his comrades fire a rocket barrage toward the positions of government troops April 14, 2011, west of Ajdabiyah. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Gadhafi supporters hold copies of his portrait as they gather at the Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli, April 15, 2011. Rebels held much of eastern Libya by mid-April, while Gadhafi controlled the west, with the front line shifting back and forth in the middle. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Doctors work on a baby who suffered cuts from shrapnel that blasted through the window of his home during fighting in the besieged city of Misrata, April 18, 2011. Thousands of civilians are trapped in Misrata as fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels there. The Libyan government has come under international criticism for using heavy weapons and artillery in its assault on Misrata. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. MISRATA, LIBYA - APRIL 20: Libyan rebel fighters discuss how to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from the next room during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi April 20, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building that fought back instead of surrendering, firing on the rebels in the building and seriously wounding two of them during the standoff. Fighting continues between Libyan government forces that have surrounded the city and anti-government rebels ensconced there. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images) (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Libyan rebel fighters carry out a comrade wounded during an effort to dislodge some ensconced government loyalist troops who were firing on them from a building during house-to-house fighting on Tripoli Street in downtown Misrata April 20, 2011. Rebel forces assaulted the downtown positions of troops loyal to Gaddafi, briefly forcing them back over a key bridge and trapping several in a building where they fought back instead of surrendering. Two rebels were seriously wounded during the standoff. (Chris Hondros / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Rebels tread carefully as they prepare to invade a house where soldiers from the pro-government forces had their base in the Zwabi area of Misrata on April 24, 2011. (Andre Liohn / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Libyans inspect damage and an unexploded missile at the Gadhafi family compound in a residential area of Tripoli, May 1, 2011. Gadhafi escaped a NATO missile strike in Tripoli that killed one of his sons and three young grandchildren. EDITOR'S NOTE: Photo taken on a government guided tour. (Darko Bandic / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Moammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, center, leaves the funeral of his brother Saif Al-Arab Gadhafi, who was killed during air strikes by coalition forces, at the El Hani cemetery in Tripoli, May 2, 2011. Crowds chanting Gadhafi's name gathered in Tripoli for the funeral of his son and three grandchildren. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Fleeing migrants and Libyans are seen on board an International Organization of Migration ship leaving the port of Misrata on May 4, 2011, as Gadhafi forces continued to pound the city. (Christophe Simon / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Libyan men watch as the main fuel depot in Libya's third largest city, Misrata, burns following a bombing by Gadhafi's forces on May 7, 2011. Libyan regime forces shelled fuel depots in Misrata and dropped mines into its harbor using helicopters bearing the Red Cross emblem, rebels said as they braced for a ground assault. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Libyan rebels celebrate near the airport of Misrata on May 11, 2011 after capturing the city's strategic airport following a fierce battle with Moammar Gadhafi's troops -- their first significant advance in weeks. (Ricardo Garcia Vilanova / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Women react after a protest against Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Benghazi, Libya, on May 16, 2011. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, announced that he would seek arrest warrants against the leader of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and the country's intelligence chief on charges of crimes against humanity. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Tripoli street in Misrata is seen from the terrace of a building used by Gadhafi’s snipers before the rebels took control of the area on May 22, 2011. The weeks-long siege of the city ended in mid-May and Tripoli Street was the site of the fiercest fighting in the battle and a turnin point in the war. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A rebel fighter gives water to a soldier loyal to Gadhafi after he was wounded and then captured near the front line, west of Misrata on May 23, 2011. (Rodrigo Abd / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. An uncle, left, prays over the body of one and a half year-old Mohsen Ali al-Sheikh during a washing ritual during the funeral at his family's house in Misrata, May 27, 2011. The child was killed by a gunshot during clashes between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces earlier in the day. (Wissam Saleh / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. The body of a drowned refugee floats near a capsized ship which was transporting an estimated 850 refugees from Libya, approximately 22 miles north of the Tunisian islands of Kerkennah, June 4, 2011. At least 578 survived the sinking. (Lindsay Mackenzie / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. A photograph taken from a video by a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows Mutassem Gadhafi, son of Moammar Gadhafi, drinking water and smoking a cigarette following his capture and shortly before his death, in Sirte, Oct. 20, 2011. (- / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A photograph taken from mobile phone video of a National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter shows the capture of Moammar Gadhafi in Sirte on Oct. 20, 2011. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. This image provided by the Libyan Youth Group on Nov. 19, 2011, shows Seif al-Islam Gadhafi after he was captured near the Niger border with Libya. Moammar Gadhafi's son, the only wanted member of the ousted ruling family to remain at large, was captured as he traveled with aides in a convoy in Libya's southern desert. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image: A photo said to show people gathering during recent days' unrest in Benghazi, Libya. The content, date and location of the image could not be independently verified.
    AP
    Above: Slideshow (81) Conflict in Libya
  2. Cam Cardow / Ottawa Citizen, Politicalcartoons.com
    Slideshow (10) Gadhafi's Gotta Go!

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments