US, Libya Officials Meet in Person
It's their first face-to-face sit down since the conflict began
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2011 7:53 AM CDT
In this Monday, July 18, 2011 photo, a tank is driven through the town of Kabaw, western Libya.   (AP Photo/ Gaia Anderson)

(Newser) – Here's what US and Libya officials will confirm: They met on Saturday, in Tunisia, and spoke for three hours. Here's what they won't confirm: What they talked about, or what the next step is. The government officials sat down, face-to-face, for the first time since the conflict began, following repeated requests from Gadhafi's camp. A state department official says the US agreed to the meeting, which was neither a negotiation nor the first in a series of meetings, in order to convey an often-uttered message: Moammar Gadhafi must step down.

The Guardian reports that a Libyan government rep described the one-off meeting as a first step, however. "We support any dialogue, any peace initiative, as long as they don't decide Libya's future from outside," he told journalists. Among those in attendance were four members of Gadhafi's inner circle, US ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz, and the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs.