U.S. Senator McCain in Libya to meet rebels

Republican Senator John McCain, who favours greater U.S. involvement in Libya, arrived in Benghazi on Friday for talks with rebel leaders, the opposition Libyan National Council said.

CNN had broadcast images of McCain walking in the streets of Benghazi, the rebel's stronghold in eastern Libya, with an entourage. A rebel put a red scarf around his neck and an aide removed it, the CNN footage showed.

A rebel spokesman said McCain had visited the courthouse where the protests against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi started in mid-February. McCain is due to speak to reporters later on Friday.

McCain, the ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, arrived in Benghazi after the United States said it would use armed drones against Gaddafi's forces.

The chairman of the U.S. military's joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, said on Friday that coalition air strikes had degraded Gaddafi's main ground forces by 30 to 40 percent, but said the conflict was becoming deadlocked.

"It's certainly moving towards a stalemate," Mullen told U.S. troops during a visit to Baghdad.

[Source: Reuters, Benghazi, 22Apr11]

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