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Libyan leader says world aggravates Darfur conflict

May 18, 2007 (LONDON) — Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi has said that the people of Darfur should be left alone to resolve the conflict in their region. He further accused the international community of aggravating the conflict.

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Muammar Gadhafi

"In Darfur, and problems similar to Darfur, we leave the problem for the people of Darfur," Gadhafi reportedly told students at Oxford University, central England, according to a transcript of an address released by the BBC Friday.

"They will solve the problems by themselves," he was quoted as saying of the people in the war-torn western Sudanese region.

"We do not need to aggravate the situation. Intervention is aggravating the situation — to the extent that there is a conflict between America and China because of the oil in Darfur.

"So the problem is not only the Darfur people — it belongs to the international community as well, because the Darfur conflict is aggravating, it is escalating, because some countries are willing to obtain that oil in Darfur."

The conflict in Darfur has cost at least 200,000 lives since February 2003 and Sudan has faced pressure from the West to accept the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force to prop up embattled African Union delegation.

Libya has spearheaded mediation attempts between Khartoum and rebel factions and played a key role in efforts to prevent the conflict from spilling over into neighbouring countries.

Late last month, it hosted a conference, attended by all five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, calling for the implementation of the UN peacekeeping plan.

Then, Gadhafi said it was "not in the interests of the international community to intervene in an affair in which one of the parties does not want a solution."

On Wednesday, he spoke to students at the prestigious Oxford Union debating society but journalists were not admitted.

The BBC is broadcasting the address Sunday and released a transcript of his translated comments.

As part of the transcript, a reporter at the event said Gadhafi appeared in "extremely good health" despite a report this week that he was in a coma after suffering a blood clot to the brain.

Libya has made its way back into the international fold after announcing it was abandoning weapons of mass destruction programmes in 2003.

The United States restored diplomatic ties with Tripoli last year.