WASHINGTON — The US will support Russia's mediation bid in Libya provided it leads to the departure of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, President Barack Obama told his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev Monday.
Obama thanked the Russian leader "for Russia's efforts at mediation in Libya" and said he looked forward to welcoming Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday, a White House statement said.
"President Obama spoke with Russian President Medvedev today to discuss a range of bilateral and international issues and to express his condolences on the tragic sinking of the MS Bulgaria," the statement said.
"President Obama thanked President Medvedev for Russia's efforts at mediation in Libya, emphasizing that the United States is prepared to support negotiations that lead to a democratic transition in Libya as long as Kadhafi steps aside."
Russia abstained from a vote on a March UN Security Council resolution that opened the way for international involvement in Libya and has since criticized the scale and intent of the NATO-led Western campaign.
Medvedev met with South African President Jacob Zuma on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Sochi last week in an apparent bid to find a peaceful solution to the Libya crisis.
Russia has advocated the African Union taking a leading role in the negotiations and Medvedev's personal envoy Mikhail Margelov held talks in Libya with both representatives of the rebels and the Kadhafi regime last month.
An unnamed top Russian official last week told the Russian Kommersant business daily that Kadhafi was ready to cede power in exchange for security guarantees.
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