Menon to go to Teheran

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However, the worst violence was witnessed in Zawiyah, about 50 km west of Tripoli. Gaddafi''s opponents, however,reportedly managed to capture a military air base.

Speculation was also rife over the whereabouts of theLibyan ruler who, in a marked contrast to a 75-minute addressfrom outside his Tripoli home on Tuesday, told the state TV ontelephone last evening from an undisclosed destination thatthe uprising was not a people''s revolt in the style of Egyptand Tunisia, but inspired by Osama bin Laden''s outfit.

Joining the league of officials who have defected fromthe regime in protest of the violence, Libya''s ambassadors toFrance and UNESCO also resigned from their positions.

US President Barack Obama spoke over phone with FrenchPresident Nicolas Sarkozy, British Premier David Cameroon andItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and discussed theLibyan crisis.

The White House said the leaders discussed a range ofoptions that both the US and European countries are preparingto hold the Libyan government accountable for its actions.

It said all options were on the table, including sanctions.

State Department spokesman P J Crowley said the Obamaadministration supported a European proposal for the UN HumanRights Council to recommend Libya''s expulsion from the body.

He said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at thedirection of Obama, is travelling to Geneva on February27-28 to address a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council andmobilise the international community against the MuammarGaddafi regime of Libya.

Top UN human rights official, Navi Pillay said thereare reports of mass killings of thousands in Libya that shouldforce the global community to "step in vigorously" to end thecrackdown against anti-government protesters.

UN Security Council is expected to meet soon in NewYork to consider further action against Gaddafi''s government.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also called forUN sanctions against the Libyan regime, and a probe into itspotential crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, clashes were also reported in the city ofMisurata, located 200 km east of Tripoli, where witnesses saida pro-Gaddafi army brigade attacked the city''s airport withmortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Violent clashes were also reported yesterday in thetowns of Sabha in the south and Sabratha, near Tripoli.

The UN World Food Programme meanwhile warned thatLibya''s food supply chain was "at risk of collapsing" assupply shortages hit the violence wracked country.

In another blow to the Libyan leader, his cousin andclose aide Ahmed Qadhaf al-Dam announced that he had defectedto Egypt in protest against violence in the country.

Foreign governments were continuing to evacuate theircitizens from the country, with thousands flooding Libya''sland borders with Tunisia and Egypt.

Libyan state TV, meanwhile, announced that everyfamily in the country would receive 500 dinars (USD 400), andthat wages for some categories of public sector workers wouldincrease by 150 per cent, in what was being seen as an effortby the regime to assuage anti-Gaddafi feelings.

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