PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe joined other African leaders in Ethiopia on Wednesday for an extraordinary summit of African Union to discuss the Libyan conflict.
The meeting being held on Wednesday and Thursday at the bloc's headquarters in the Addis Ababa came as Russia and India aligned themselves with the mood in Africa against Western military operations in Libya.
India said the "decisions relating to Africa should be left to the Africans" while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he hoped the African Union could hammer out a plan for ending the hostilities.
Libya's Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi had called for a summit in April to find ways for the continent to fight "external forces".
The African Union last month proposed a truce but this was rejected by rebels, insisting on Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s departure.
The north African country has been mired in a bloody conflict pitting Gaddafi’s forces against opposition rebels since the eruption of massive anti-government protests in mid-February.
A United States, British and French-led military coalition intervened on March 19, launching air raids and missile strikes based on their reading of UN Resolution 1973 authorising the use of “all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya. NATO took command of the air campaign on March 31.
At the start of Wednesday’s summit, South African leader Jacob Zuma announced he would visit Tripoli next week for talks with Gaddafi on Monday.
Zuma will meet Gaddafi in "his capacity as a member of the African Union high level panel for the resolution of the conflict in Libya," said a statement posted on the Presidency’s website.
The African Union panel to Libya includes Uganda, Mauritania and South Africa. It is the second trip for Zuma, who was part of an African Union delegation that visited the nation last month. That visit included talks on a cease-fire, which appear to have failed.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lended his weight to the resumption of efforts by the African Union to bring peace to Libya.
"India wants peace and tranquility to return to Libya. India favours a swift resumption of the political process in the country. In this we will support the position taken by the African Union," he said.
Russia called NATO's latest bombings in Tripoli a “grave departure” from UN resolutions on Libya that could lead to a further escalation in violence and cause more suffering.
“We clearly see another grave violation on UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Lavrov told reporters: "I hope that some positions will be worked out based on all these approaches (offered by opposition representatives in Benghazi, the African Union and the UN), which allows a stop to bloodshed as soon as possible.”
Lavrov said that opposition leaders have realised that other parties, including the government in Tripoli and representatives of the country's other regions, must participate in the talks on the settlement of the crisis in Libya.
On Monday, Lavrov held talks with the Libyan opposition delegation headed by Abdul- Rahman Shalgam, who is also a former Libyan foreign minister.
He said the main aim of the meeting between Russia and the Libyan opposition is to secure a ceasefire in Libya.