Deadly Clashes in Libya’s Brega; Talks in France, Russia

Posted July 20th, 2011 at 2:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The death toll mounted Wednesday from clashes in Libya's strategic oil port of Brega, while Libya's government and opposition leaders held separate talks overseas.

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.

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.

White House spokesman Jay Carney reacted to the development, saying the U.S. continues to believe that Mr. Gadhafi should resign, but that it is up to the Libyan people to decide if that happens.

Mr. Gadhafi has previously refused calls to leave or step down.

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