PARIS (AFP/Reuters) - Libya's rebels have for weeks been holding talks with former senior figures from the regime of strongman Moamer Gaddafi in Tripoli, a French writer and supporter of the rebels said Wednesday. "There have for weeks been political negotiations between the NTC (the rebel National Transitional Council) and the people in Tripoli who have no blood on their hands," Bernard-Henri Levy told Europe 1 radio. He said the people the rebels were talking to were "former Gaddafi lieutenants, technocrats, people who know how to run a state." Levy helped engineer Frances pathbreaking recognition of Libyas fledgling rebel authority, a major impetus for the coalition then gathering to back its struggle to overthrow Gaddafi. The rebels, who control the east of the country, have frequently denied having had any direct negotiations with Tripoli. Meanwhile, rebels said on Wednesday they had fought off an attack on positions around Zlitan, contradicting government claims of victory in a town insurgents hope will pave the way for an advance on the capital.