A top aide to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi has held discreet talks with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who heads an African Union panel on the Libyan crisis, a diplomatic source said Thursday.
Bashir Saleh Bashir, Gaddafi's chief of staff, "arrived Wednesday in Nouakchott on a special plane, went to Mali and returned to Nouakchott the same day, where he was received by the president," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The visit came as senior US diplomats this week visited several African countries as part of continuing efforts to urge African leaders to press Gaddafi to leave power immediately.
Having benefited financially from Gaddafi's policies, a number of African countries have been reluctant to call for the longtime leader to step down and have criticized the NATO-led military campaign in Libya.
Ould Abdel Aziz is heading an AU panel that is seeking to negotiate peace talks and a ceasefire in Libya. He met earlier this month with Abdelmejid Seif Nassr, an envoy of the National Transitional Council (NTC), formed in February by forces seeking to end Khadafi's four-decades rule.
Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi was also to meet Thursday with Greek counterpart Stavros Lambrinidis in Athens, the Greek foreign ministry said, amid growing diplomatic pressure on Gaddafi's regime.