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April 6th, 2011
07:00 PM ET

Former lawmaker in Tripoli to 'persuade' Gadhafi

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - The former U.S. lawmaker invited to Libya by Col. Moammar Gadhafi still had not met with the embattled Libyan leader as Wednesday turned into Thursday there, and it was unclear when the expected meeting would take place.

Curt Weldon, a Republican former Congressman from Pennsylvania, is leading what he calls "a small private delegation" with a cease-fire proposal for the Libyan leader.

"I'm here to tell him face to face it's time for him to leave. It's time for him to step down, allow the people to take over the government of this country," Weldon told CNN affiliate WPIX-TV in New York.

In a New York Times column, he wrote, "There is no question that America should play a critical role in helping the Libyans build a new government. Sadly, in the years since my first trip, Washington has squandered many opportunities to achieve that goal without bloodshed. And unless we begin to engage with the country's leaders - even those close to Colonel Gadhafi - we may again lose our chance to help build a new Libya."

Weldon notified the Obama administration about his trip in advance, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday afternoon.

But Toner clarified, "He is in no way acting on behalf of the U.S. government."

Since Weldon's first trip to Libya in 2004, he has developed a unique relationship with Libya and Gadhafi.

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