MOSCOW — President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi told him over a game of chess in Tripoli he had no plans to stand down or leave his country.
As fighting between Kadhafi's forces and Libyan insurgents raged across western Libya, the Russian eccentric who once claimed he hosted extraterrestrials, also sat down for a game of chess with Kadhafi's eldest son Muhammad and the two played the Sicilian defense, Russia's Interfax news agency said.
"The meeting [with Moamer Kadhafi] lasted around two hours, we played some chess with Kadhafi," Ilyumzhinov, who is on a visit to Tripoli in his capacity as FIDE president, told Interfax.
"Kadhafi stated that he is not going to leave Libya, stressing that it is his motherland and a land where his children and grandchildren died. He also said that he does not understand which post he needs to step down from."
"I am neither premier nor president nor king. I do not hold any post in Libya and therefore I have no position which I should give up," Ilyumzhinov quoted Kadhafi as telling him.
Ilyumzhinov, who also met with foreign and education ministers, said he saw a lot of destruction in Tripoli.
He expressed his condolences to Kadhafi over the death of his son and grandchildren and said he was shown a house hit by five bombs where the leader's family members died.
Ilyumzhinov was the head of Russia's Buddhist region of Kalmykia between 1993 and 2010. He famously claimed that he had met aliens on the balcony of his apartment in Moscow, prompting demands to explain his behaviour.
The West is involved in the bombing campaign against Kadhafi's forces, a conflict Russia has offered to mediate. The Kremlin's special representative to Africa, Mikhail Margelov, visited rebels in Libya's east this week and is now preparing a trip to Tripoli.
Margelov said he would be ready to meet with Kadhafi but had not so far received any such orders from the Kremlin, which has repeatedly called on the Libyan leader to stand down for the sake of peace of the country.
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