Rebel forces battled the government outside Muammar Qadhafi???s hometown and stronghold of Sirte as Western and Arab nations prepared to meet in London on Tuesday to seek an exit for Libya???s long time leader.United Nations Secretary???General Ban Ki???moon, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Arab League, the African Union and around 40 foreign ministers were scheduled to join the talks, seeking to ratchet up pressure on Col. Qadhafi.Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said several nations planned to put forward a deal which would propose a cease???fire, exile for Col. Gadhafi and a framework for talks, between Libya???s tribal leaders and opposition figures, on the country???s future.One of Libya???s top officials, meanwhile, abruptly made a ???private visit??? to Tunisia late Monday, according to the official news agency there.It is not clear if Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa was defecting, but it has raised suspicions over further cleavages within the embattled regime.No representative from Libya???s opposition was expected to attend the conference, but an official familiar with planning for the talks said an envoy was expected to travel to London to meet with British diplomats on the sidelines. The official demanded anonymity to discuss the meeting with the opposition envoy ahead of a formal announcement.Thanks to international airstrikes begun on March 19, Libya???s rebels are in a much stronger position than a week ago, having recaptured all the territory lost earlier to Col. Qadhafi???s forces, including two key oil terminals.But the rebels remain woefully outgunned by Col. Qadhafi???s forces and it is unclear how they can take the stronghold of Sirte without further aggressive international air support. Attacks on Monday were repelled by heavy mortar and rocket fire.Rebels acknowledged they could not have taken so much ground without the air and cruise missile strikes. Libya state television reported new NATO airstrikes
Welcome! Log into your account
Recover your password
A password will be e-mailed to you.