* Representatives of two sides "meeting in hotel"
* Gaddafi spokesman denies any negotiations under way
* Government under pressure after rebel advance
(Updates with Gaddafi spokesman denying talks)
By Ulf Laessing
DJERBA, Tunisia, Aug 14 Libyan rebels and
representatives of Muammar Gaddafi's government held
negotiations late on Sunday in a hotel in southern Tunisia, a
source with direct knowledge of the talks told Reuters.
A spokesman for Gaddafi's government denied there were any
talks about the Libyan leader's departure, and said reports
about such negotiations were part of a media war against
Tripoli. There was no immediate comment from rebel officials.
The talks were being conducted behind closed doors at a
hotel on the Tunisian island of Djerba near the border with
Libya, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He
did not identify any of those involved in the negotiations.
"Representatives of the rebels and Gaddafi representatives
are having a meeting now," said the source.
Speculation that Gaddafi may seek talks has intensified
since rebel fighters fought their way into the town of Zawiyah
west of Tripoli at the weekend, cutting off Gaddafi's stronghold
in the capital from its supply lifeline to Tunisia.
A Reuters reporter who tried to get into the hotel which,
according to the source, was hosting the talks, was turned away
by security staff at the gate. They said the hotel was closed to
visitors for the evening.
Lights were on inside the hotel, and a man in jeans and
T-shirt was standing outside with hotel security staff, holding
a list in his hand.
Libya's conflict began six months ago when thousands of
people inspired by popular uprisings in neighbouring Tunisia and
Egypt protested against Gaddafi's 41-year rule.
His security forces mounted a crackdown in which hundreds of
people were killed. Rebel fighters, backed by NATO warplanes,
have since been trying to advance on the capital in fighting
that has killed thousands more people.
Gaddafi says the rebels are criminals and al Qaeda
militants, and has described the NATO bombing campaign as an act
of colonial aggression aimed at stealing Libya's plentiful oil
In Tripoli, government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim
blamed Western leaders and the media for the spread of rumours
that Gaddafi's government was engaged in talks on the leader's
departure from Libya.
"This information is absolutely incorrect and it
is part of a media war against us. Their target is to confuse
us, break our spirit, and shake our morale," he said.
"The leader is here in Libya, fighting for the
freedom of our nation. He will not leave Libya," Ibrahim said.
(Additional reporting by Tarek Amara in Tunis and Missy Ryan in
Tunis; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Tim Pearce)