Long the most outspoken advocates of the NATO bombing campaign, the French government has shown a shockingly rapid change of direction over the past two days on the war in Libya, with officials not only advocating a rebel agreement with the Gadhafi regime but even engaging in talks of their own to that end.
The latest comments came by way of Alain Juppe, the French Foreign Minister, who confirmed that “indirect talks” are ongoing with Gadhafi regarding an agreement that would include his leaving office.
Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi also confirmed the talks, saying his government is in “serious negotiations” with both the French and the rebels. Some past reports have indicated that the Gadhafi regime is negotiating Moammar’s ouster on the condition that Saif al-Islam takes over the interim government.
The French government’s sudden change is reported to be related to plans by Nicolas Sarkozy to announce a major breakthrough in the ongoing war during the Thursday Bastille Day celebration. With the war showing no real progress, the date is expected to be missed and the Sarkozy government seems concerned it will do serious damage to public opinion over the already unpopular war.