Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chavez Bid to Mediate Libya Conflict Dims Further with Official's Indictment

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Chavez Bid to Mediate Libya Conflict Dims Further with Official's Indictment

Article excerpt

A Spanish court on Monday indicted a senior Venezuelan official as a leader of the terror organization ETA, further undercutting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's credentials as a mediator for the Libyan conflict.

In yet another setback to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's efforts to mediate a peaceful resolution to Libyan hostilities, a Spanish court on Monday indicted a high-ranking Venezuelan official, originally from Spain, as one of the leaders of the terrorist organization ETA.

While the court proceedings are unrelated to unrest in Libya, Mr. Chavez's credentials as a possible peace broker are sure to come more into question as evidence mounts that his government is harboring and protecting international terrorists. Indeed, Chavez has personally ruled out extradition of the alleged terrorist leader.

Oil prices last week dropped on news that Chavez's plan to form an international commission to mediate between the government and the National Libyan Council was being seriously considered by Libyan government, Arab nations, and other developing countries. There were early American, French, and British objections to Chavez's involvement.

But hostilities increased in Libya over the weekend, even after Chavez's plan garnered more support from several of his Latin American allies, including Cuba, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The Arab League also joined a growing diplomatic chorus willing to support a United Nations-imposed no-fly zone, undermining the peace plan even further.

Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi also played down Chavez's plan in an interview with French TV broadcast Sunday. "There is no problem here. This mediation does not exist for the moment. What we need is to get rid of these armed gangs."

IN PICTURES: Qaddafi: A look back

Venezuelan officials, starting with Chavez, have pitched several names to lead the commission, from former President Jimmy Carter to former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, but the plan has had little traction. …

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