US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting Nato and Arab diplomats in Turkey to seek a solution to the crisis in Libya.

The gathering of the Libya Contact Group, the fourth since March, will also discuss aid to the rebels.

The group of 15 includes UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, Italy’s Franco Frattini, and Alain Juppe of France.

Mr Juppe has this week been talking up prospects of a political solution based on contacts with Col Muammar Gaddafi.

France played a key role in launching Nato-led strikes in Libya, under a UN-mandated mission to protect civilians.

‘After Gaddafi’

A senior US official travelling with Mrs Clinton was quoted by Reuters as saying: “Countries are starting to look past Gaddafi.

“He’s going to go, and the meeting can be a useful place to take stock of and prepare for that transition.”

The meeting will explore measures to increase the pressure on the Libyan regime, such as constraining government broadcasting. It will also look at a progress report on the Libyan opposition’s plans for progress to democracy.

Representatives of the Benghazi-based National Transitional Council will be at the meeting, but invitations to China and Russia were both declined.

Fuel crisis

The conflict in Libya appears to be in a protracted stalemate. Rebels are holding eastern Libya and pockets in the west.

Col Gaddafi remains entrenched in the capital Tripoli, despite a Nato bombing campaign of more than 6,000 sorties against regime forces.

International sanctions have also been imposed and international arrest warrants issued against leading figures in the Libyan regime.

In Tripoli, Col Gaddafi’s government has been holding crisis talks over the supply of fuel to the country.

After the meeting Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi signalled the end of Italy’s 30bn Euro (£26bn) investment in the country and called on new partners to join them in the exploration and refining of crude oil.

In the capital, the queues at the petrol pumps now stretch over a mile. It is being reported that a key pipeline to the city has been cut by the rebels.

Source: BBC