ISTANBUL, Turkey — A diplomatic push by Moammar Gadhafi's regime ran into trouble Monday as opponents rejected any solution to the Libyan conflict that would involve one of his sons taking power.
While a Gadhafi envoy lobbied diplomats in Turkey and European capitals, Italy became the third nation to say the rebels' interim council in Libya is the only legitimate voice for the people of the North African nation.
The diplomatic talk could signal a softening of the Gadhafi regime's hard-line public stance against a compromise that would end the fighting and steer Libya toward a political resolution.
Some of Gadhafi's adversaries rejected the idea that any of powerful sons might play a transitional leadership role that would undoubtedly protect the family's vast economic interests. Gadhafi has held power since 1969.
In Rome, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini welcomed Ali al-Essawi, the foreign envoy of the Libyan National Transitional Council, which was set up in the eastern, rebel-held city of Benghazi as the uprising against Gadhafi began in February.
"We have decided to recognize the council as the only political, legitimate interlocutor to represent Libya," Frattini said.
Frattini also insisted that Gadhafi and his family must go. "Any solution for the future of Libya has a precondition: that Gadhafi's regime leaves," he said.
Italy is the third country, after France and Qatar, to give diplomatic recognition to the rebel council, despite international concerns about the unity, origin and ultimate intentions of the opposition.
Al-Essawi said one possible idea — replacing Gadhafi with one of his sons — was unacceptable.
In Benghazi, opposition spokeswoman Iman Bughaigis also said the rebels would not accept any solution that included Gadhafi or his sons.
U.S. officials said they had no information about a plan involving Gadhafi transferring power to one of his sons. State Department spokesman Mark Toner also indicated that the United States was not ready to recognize the opposition.
The New York Times reported Sunday that two of Gadhafi's sons are proposing a solution in which one of them, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, would take over from his father and steer the country toward a constitutional democracy. It was unclear whether Gadhafi himself supported the proposal, the newspaper said.
On Monday, a Libyan government envoy, Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi, held talks with senior Turkish officials in the capital, Ankara. Turkey's NTV television cited al-Obeidi as telling Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that the Libyan government wants to see a quick end to the fighting. On Sunday, he was in Greece, where he told the prime minister that Gadhafi was seeking a way out of the crisis.
REBELS GAIN: Rebel fighters pushed back into the oil town of Brega, pledging to drive out Gadhafi's forces. The rebels and forces loyal to Gadhafi have reached a stalemate, with a series of towns along one stretch of Mediterranean coastline passing back and forth multiple times between the two sides.