London: Leaders of the four dozen countries and international organizations meeting here on Tuesday made it clear that the NATO-led military operation in Libya would end only with the removal of Col. Moammar el-Gaddafi, even though that is not the stated aim of the United Nations resolution authorizing it.
"When the fighting is over, we will need to put right the damage that Gaddafi has inflicted," the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said as he convened the conference. He added, "It's never too early to start planning coordinated action to support peace in Libya over the longer term."
The conference was the second to gather American, NATO and Arab officials since the United Nations Security Council cleared the way for international airstrikes in Libya 10 days ago. Mr. Cameron said that Colonel Gaddafi's government remained in "flagrant breach" of the United Nations resolution, citing fresh reports of fighting in Misurata, a city seized by rebels and now under a counterassault by loyalist forces.
"All of us must continue the pressure on and deepen the isolation of the Gaddafi regime," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, addressing the leaders seated around a long table at the Lancaster House in central London. "This includes a unified front of political and diplomatic pressure that makes clear to Gaddafi he must go."
The secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, announced that after Tuesday's conference he would dispatch an envoy to Libya, Abdelilah Mohammed al-Khatib of Jordan, to mediate between the Gaddafi government and the rebels. A senior American official traveling with Mrs. Clinton said that the envoy's trip was "the most practical step" so far toward negotiating an end to the fighting, though there seemed to be little prospect of a quick resolution.
The United States and other nations continue to reach out to Gaddafi loyalists -- and to receive messages from some -- to split off or otherwise negotiate the Libyan leader's ouster, the official said.
"They don't amount at this stage, to the best of my knowledge, a serious effort of exploring a negotiation," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the State Department's ground rules, "but I think there are signs that people very close to Gaddafi are beginning to think about the future."
Mr. Cameron, citing reports he said he had received of attacks in Misurata on Tuesday morning "from the land and the sea," vilified the Libyan leader in starkly personal language, underscoring the widespread scorn and isolation he faces.
"Gaddafi is using snipers to shoot people down and let them bleed to death in the street," he said. "He's cut off food, water and electricity to starve people into submission. And he is harassing humanitarian ships trying to get into the port to do what they can to relieve their suffering."
Mr. Cameron, like Mrs. Clinton and others, defended the international military intervention. "It has saved lives, and it is saving lives," he said.
Aside from the political show of support, however, the leaders announced no significant new steps to support the rebels explicitly. The United States, for example, has not yet decided whether to arm the opposition forces, the senior administration official said, but the new United Nations resolution allows it, and other countries are believed to be actively considering it.
"I think different countries -- but I mean at this stage, just speaking for the United States, I don't think any decision has been made," the official said.
A spokesman for the rebels, Mahmoud Shammam, said on the sidelines of Tuesday's conference that the fighters had not yet received weapons but would welcome them, saying that with armoured weaponry they would have already defeated army and police troops loyal to Colonel Gaddafi.
"We ask for political support more than arms," Mr. Shammam said, "but if we have both, that would be good."
Mrs. Clinton met a second time with a senior leader of the opposition, Mahmoud Jibril, deepening the administration's wary embrace of the provisional political council created to represent the rebels, both politically and militarily. American officials have acknowledged a dearth of information about the views of all those fighting under the opposition's umbrella. The administration's envoy to those rebels, John Christopher Stevens, is expected to travel to the rebel-held parts of Libya soon.
"We know some of them," the American ambassador to Libya, Gene A. Cretz, said in Washington late last week. "We're trying to get to know more of them, but I don't think we're at a point where we can make a judgment that this is a hundred per cent kosher, so to speak, group."