Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s president, has called for an international mediation effort to seek a peaceful solution to the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, the embattled Libyan leader.
Chavez’s call on Monday came as the US and other Western governments discussed military options to put an end to the violence against anti-Gaddafi protesters, who are pushing for his ouster.
Options on the table include possible imposition of a no-fly zone to protect civilians.
The US defence department also said on Monday that it was moving naval and air forces into position near Libya.
Chavez said that he had already discussed the idea with some Latin American nations as well as some European countries.
“I hope we can create a commission that goes to Libya to talk with the government and the opposition leaders,” he said in a live television speech.
“We want a peaceful solution … We support peace in the Arab world and in the whole world.”
Without giving further details of the proposed mediation mission, Chavez said it was better to seek “a political solution instead of sending marines to Libya, and better to send a good will mission than for the killing to continue”.
Al Jazeera’s Dima Khatib, reporting from Caracas, said the comments come from “Chavez’s ideology that the south can come up with solutions for the south”.
“Chavez said that the door is open to all the ‘friendly’ nations,” she said.
“It will be interesting to see in the next few days, which countries will be willing to join this international peace commission.”
‘US after Libyan oil’
Chavez repeated his warning that the US wanted to invade Libya to get oil, a view that has been voiced by both Cuba and Nicaragua.
“He is worried that the United States is after the Libyan oil, just like they were after the Iraqi oil. He says that they have gone mad because of the Libyan oil; it’s driving them crazy,” our correspondent said.
“He also wondered why doesn’t the world condemn the massacres in Falluja, in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.”
Chavez is Gaddaf’s main ally in Latin America and both leaders regularly make public condemnations of US “imperialism” and have exchanged visits in recent years.
Ties between the two leaders are so close that Gaddafi was rumoured last month to have fled to Caracas, though these claims were later denied.
Chavez said it would be hypocritical of him to join the chorus of international condemnation of Gaddafi now.
“He says that this [condemnation] has been done against him [Chavez] in the past. He has been accused of harbouring al-Qaeda; he has been accused of all kinds of things without any proof,” Al Jazeera’s Khatib said.
Chavez posted a message on Twitter on Thursday saying “Long live Libya and its independence! Gaddafii faces a civil war!”
It was his first reaction to the uprising that has shaken Libya since February 15.
Chavez’s opponents say that his links with Gaddafi, and refusal to condemn his violence against opponents, demonstrate a similar autocratic nature.
Pro-opposition newspapers have been showing daily pictures of the two men together at past meetings.