US Officials meet Gaddafi's Aides

Tripoli - MAP- US officials have met face-to-face with members of Muammar Gaddafi's regime - but the two sides disagree about what they discussed.

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters in Tripoli the talks had been held on Saturday.

He refused to say exactly where they happened or which officials were involved, but said they had involved ways to repair ties between Tripoli and Washington.

The Americans said the reason for the meeting was to insist that Col Gaddafi leaves power.
Mr Ibrahim said: "This is a first step and we want to take further steps. We don't want to be stuck in the past. We want to move forward all the time."

He described it as a "first-step dialogue" to improve relations between the two countries, which had been damaged by "misinformation".

A State Department spokesman said officials had given a "clear and firm message that the only way forward in Libya is for Gaddafi to step down".

He said the meeting was "not a negotiation session".

Last Friday, the US announced it was recognizing Libya's main opposition group as the country's legitimate government, giving the rebel movement a major boost.

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