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U.S. To Soon Send Disaster Relief Teams To Eastern Libya, White House Says

"We'll soon be sending disaster assistance relief teams into eastern Libya," White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon just told reporters on a telephone conference call that's now underway.

Donilon also said the U.S. is "prepared to send diplomats to Benghazi to engage the opposition" and has been "in direct contact with the opposition through a variety of channels."

Benghazi, a city along the Mediterranean Sea in eastern Libya, is now controlled by fighters who oppose the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi and is where rebels have set up a council that they say is governing in that region.

Update at 3:18 p.m. ET:The aid missions "are not going in in any way, shape or form as military operations," Donilon just added. He said they will enter the region with "the cooperation of ... local entities who now are in de facto control."

NPR.org's latest story on the crisis in Libya is here.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.