France proposed today a plan that would allow Moammar Gadhafi to remain in Libya if he leaves office, but Libyan rebel emissaries in Paris for meetings say it may be too late for that option.
"I don't think there is a place for him. He is a criminal now," Transitional National Council representative Souleiman Fortia said after the meeting with French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
Foreign Minister Alain Juppe floated the idea of allowing Gadhafi to remain in Libya if he steps down during an interview on French LCI television.
"One of the scenarios effectively envisaged is that he stays in Libya on one condition which I repeat -- that he very clearly steps aside from Libyan political life," Juppe said. "A ceasefire depends on Gaddafi committing clearly and formally to surrender his military and civilian roles."
Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi, meanwhile, is in Moscow, but claimed after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that there is no talk of Gadhafi giving up power.
"Gadhafi's departure is not being discussed," Obeidi told the Russian Interfax news agency.
The diplomatic push came after a day of brutal fighting in the oil terminal city of Brega, where the eastern rebel army is once again launching a march west toward Tripoli. The city is said to be heavily mined and there are still remnants of Gadhafi forces in the city limits.
Outside of Brega, Gadhafi forces have disguised motorized artillery with rebel flags and markings to throw off NATO aircraft. NATO has bombed in the Brega area in recent days, in part paving the way for the rebel army.
Brega is in a central coastal region that has gone back and forth at least three times in five months of fighting. The rebels have said they want to take and hold Brega for good this time.