CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Moammar Gadhafi's government has authorized Venezuela to select countries for an effort to mediate an end to Libya's crisis and to coordinate the effort, Venezuela's foreign minister said Friday.
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said he received a message from his Libyan counterpart authorizing Venezuela to "take all measures necessary to select the members and coordinate their participation in that dialogue."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who calls Gadhafi a friend and ally, has proposed creating a group of "friendly countries" to help mediate in the conflict.
Gadhafi's opponents in Libya, however, have shown no willingness to negotiate as long as he remains in power.
Countries including the U.S. and Italy also have been cool to Chavez's proposal.
The idea won support Friday from the foreign ministers of Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia as well as from other officials representing Nicaragua, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They joined Maduro in Caracas for a meeting of nations belonging to the Venezuela-led Bolivarian Alternative bloc, or ALBA.
Chavez read a statement Friday night in which the group condemned attempts at "intervention" in Libya by other countries and called for a cease-fire.
Chavez accused the United States and its allies of trying to use events in Libya to take control of its oil reserves. He warned that if there is a bigger conflict in North Africa, "those flames could reach Europe."
Support for the mediation proposal by Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia shows "how important the ALBA is for this world of today, which before the silence of the world has been left as the voice," Chavez said. He said time is of the essence in creating a "working group of coordination with other countries."
"We must make a very great effort. We cannot lose a day," he said.
Chavez accused news media of presenting a distorted view of events in Libya. He did not discuss the Libyan government's crackdown on civilian protesters, which has drawn condemnation from other nations.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez praised Chavez's proposal and called on supporters to work on building "an international movement ... against a NATO military intervention in Libya and in Arab countries."
Ecuador's foreign minister, Ricardo Patino, said his government supports Chavez's proposal or any other proposal that would lead to dialogue and a peaceful outcome of the 2½-week-old uprising.
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