One of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s sons told a Syrian television station late Wednesday he is in the suburbs outside Tripoli and that loyalist commanders have told him their men would fight to the death.
Seif al-Islam Gadhafi vowed that he and other family members would never surrender and said his father “is fine.” He told the pro-Gadhafi al-Rai satellite station in an audio message that morale among loyalist fighters is high.
His defiant comments contrasted with those of his brother, Saadi, who told al-Arabiya television he is ready to discuss forming a coalition government with anti-Gadhafi forces in order to stop the bloodshed. Saadi claimed he was speaking with his father’s blessing.
Also Wednesday, The New York Times quoted the deputy chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council as saying his commanders believe Mr. Gadhafi is staying in the desert town of Bani Walid, 240 kilometers southeast of Tripoli. Abdul Hafith Ghoga said NTC forces “are waiting to give him a chance to surrender.” Ghoga’s claim could not be verified.
Provisional authorities have given Mr. Gadhafi and his forces until Saturday to surrender.
Mr. Gadhafi’s foreign minister, Abdelati al-Obeidi, was reported detained in a suburb west of Tripoli.
The arrest, announced by a senior anti-Gadhafi commander, was witnessed by a Reuters journalist.
Meanwhile, European Union diplomats say sanctions against several Libyan ports, oil companies and more than a dozen other entities could be lifted as soon as Friday.
The EU’s 27 members reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday in an effort to help Libya’s National Transitional Council resume normal economic activity. Diplomats say they expect a final agreement on Thursday.
France has asked the sanctions committee of the United Nations Security Council to allow Paris to release more than $2 billion of frozen Libyan assets.
The committee has already approved similar appeals by Britain and the United States, releasing a total of more than $3 billion in seized Libyan assets to address urgent humanitarian needs.
In Libya, thousands celebrated the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Tripoli’s main square, as provisional authorities pressed for the surrender of forces loyal to Mr. Gadhafi in his hometown of Sirte.
Countries participating in the International Contact Group on Libya will meet in Paris Thursday to discuss ways to help Libyans now that the NTC has gained control over most of the country.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is among those who will attend the talks, and officials from Russia and China said Wednesday they also will send envoys.
Italy announced on Wednesday that it plans to reopen its embassy in Tripoli this week.