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Gadhafi Troops Reclaim Oil Port From Rebels

GUY RAZ, host:

And of course, we are still following events in Libya, where government forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi have managed to win back control over territory previously held by rebels.

NPR's Peter Kenyon is on the ground in Libya's second largest city, Benghazi.

And, Peter, the city where you are has become a kind of capital of the opposition movement. Is there a sense of panic there, I mean, that they may possibly be defeated?

PETER KENYON: There is no sense of panic. There is a little bit more of a sense of foreboding as the momentum shifts. These port towns, Ras Lanuf and Brega, have fallen both ways since the uprising began. But now, the intensity of the barrage on the pro-Gadhafi forces certainly suggests that there's a more serious push by the government in the west to move east and eradicate the rebel forces city by city.

And the biggest battle, if it comes here, will, of course, be in Benghazi. We were down at the port today and they were showing us their very old naval vessels and saying, yes, we're ready. Let them come. It is a much larger city here. It would be a very tough and big and messy battle. But the morale here still seems strong.

RAZ: Peter, leaders from Arab countries are meeting in Cairo. They've apparently endorsed the idea of establishing a no-fly zone in Libya. How significant is that? Does it ratchet up the pressure on the U.S. and NATO to do just that?

KENYON: It clears away one prerequisite that we're hearing from NATO officials, European officials, Western officials in general: They want a regional cover, which is what this Arab League endorsement gives them. And also, what they call a clear legal basis by which they mean a U.N. Security Council resolution. That may be difficult.

We're hearing that China and Russia are bucking at the idea. The U.S., frankly, has been not all that enthusiastic, has pointed out that these things haven't worked elsewhere in the Balkans or in Iraq.

Only France, really, has been outspoken so far in going further than that; meaning targeted strikes against Gadhafi's military machine. So far, they're out there on their own. And the wheels of international diplomacy are turning very slowly, leaving people here in Benghazi feeling a bit exposed.

RAZ: That's NPR's Peter Kenyon reporting for us from the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

Peter, thank you so much.

KENYON: You're welcome, Guy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.