Libya rebels still "ready to talk" with Tripoli if military offensive dropped
Libya's eastern rebels control some of the country's key ports and oil refinery areas (Abdullah Doma/AFP)
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Libya rebels said Saturday that they are ready to negotiate with Tripoli over ending six-month blockade if Tripoli agrees to end its discussion over plans for a military offensive, according to Reuters.
The eastern autonomy movement's self appointed prime minister Abb Rabbo Al Barassi told Reuters that "talks could only begin if the central government withdraws any troops it had sent to central Libya to confront them."
"This is the condition," he said.
Libya's government gave rebels two weeks to end their control of select ports throughout the country. If the rebels do not release the seized ports, Tripoli has threatened to conduct a military strike.
The rebels' main concern is that they want a greater share of the country's oil wealth, using last week's oil tanker fiasco as a way to show their power and strength over Tripoli's navy and related government control more generally. Following the boat incident in which the rebels managed to ship the country's oil out on seized tankers and escape the Libyan navy, parliament ousted the country's prime minister Ali Zeidan over corruption and failure to restore control in the restive north African nation.
The tanker has allegedly made it to its unspecified destination, according to Barassi, but Libyan officials still cannot confirm the exact whereabouts of the tanker.
Since the oust of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, Tripoli has failed to restore control to the restive country, with rebel factions constantly vying for power and territory control.