Deadly Clashes in Libya, Talks in France, Russia

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The death toll is mounting from clashes in Libya's strategic oil port of Brega, while diplomatic efforts to resolve the country's crisis unfold in France and Russia.

Libyan medical officials say at least 18 rebel fighters have been killed and 80 wounded since Tuesday in fighting with government forces.

Opposition fighters have gained control of much of eastern Libya but have been unable to gain control of Brega. The rebels reported heavy casualties on Tuesday after troops loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi disguised trucks with rebel flags and then shelled their positions in the port.

Meanwhile, France says it is possible that Libya's crisis could be resolved through a plan that would allow Mr. Gadhafi to remain in the country if he gives up power.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe made the comments to LCI television on Wednesday, after President Nicolas Sarkozy met with two members of Libya's opposition Transitional National Council in Paris.

Juppe said the option could be considered if Mr. Gadhafi stepped out of Libyan politics. The Libyan leader has previously refused calls to leave or resign.

Separately, Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelati Obeidi said discussions about Mr. Gadhafi's potential departure were not part of his talks in Moscow on Wednesday with his Russian counterpart.

He said the two sides were looking for ways to end the bloodshed.

In another development, Libyan state television said Wednesday that NATO forces have been bombing targets in the western town of Zlitan.