U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves for a trip to Paris, where she is set to meet with Libyan opposition figures and hold high-level talks with world powers about the country's situation on March 14, before travelling on to Tunisia and Egypt.
Her departure comes amid reports from Libyan state television that Qaddafi's forces have "purged" the embattled eastern town of Brega of rebels and taken over the city. It is the latest instance of violence in weeks of bloody antigovernment uprisings that have shaken the restive north African country.
It also comes a day after the White House welcomed a call by the Arab League for the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from air attacks by government forces.
The U.S. statement on March 12 praised the initiative as an "important step," but made no new commitment to military action.
The United States and the European Union have both called on Qaddafi's regime to leave power, but neither have so far been willing to impose a no-fly zone unilaterally.
Clinton, meanwhile, has said a no-fly zone plan is to be discussed with NATO on March 15.
compiled from agency reports