Libyan rebels, backed by a barrage of Western airstrikes, seized control Saturday of the strategic eastern oil town of Ajdabiya from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. Ajdabiya is about 160 kilometers south of the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
Libyan officials are pursuing diplomatic efforts to resolve that country’s crisis, as international coalition forces pound government targets near rebel strongholds.
A delegation representing Mr. Gadhafi says the government is ready to implement a “road map” envisioned by the African Union. The delegation issued a statement Friday, following a meeting with five African nations in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The delegation said it is committed to a cease-fire, and it demanded an end to the airstrikes and naval blockade on Libya.
The meeting involving the Libyan delegation took place after a conference of world powers in Addis Ababa called for a democratic transition period leading to elections in Libya. The Libyan delegation arrived for the conference, but was barred when a Libyan rebel group failed to attend.
Also Friday, NATO said Canadian Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard will head the alliance’s military campaign in Libya. The alliance agreed Thursday to assume command of the no-fly zone over Libya.