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International Warrant for Gadhafi Expected

A picture taken during a government-guided tour on May 12, 2011 shows a damaged building in Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli, following NATO air strikes on Libyan leader Moamar Gadhafi's compound

Italy's foreign minister says he expects the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi by the end of May as the North African country's anti-government opposition received major political boosts from abroad.

Franco Frattini said Thursday that after the warrant is issued it would be impossible for Gadhafi to go into exile because the international community would then be obliged to pursue him.

On the diplomatic front, Britain invited the rebel Transitional National Council to open an office in the country, which has the largest Libyan community outside Libya. Prime Minister David Cameron made the announcement Thursday after talks with the visiting head of the council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil.

British leaders also promised to provide the Libyan opposition with more communications equipment, bulletproof vests and uniforms. Unlike France and Italy, Britain has not recognized the national council as Libya's legitimate government.

In Washington, the White House said a visiting council delegation led by Mahmoud Jibril will meet Friday with U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, senior administration officials and members of Congress.

Earlier Thursday, NATO warplanes attacked Gadhafi's sprawling Bab al-Azaziya compound in Tripoli, hours after he made his first appearance on Libyan television since last month. Libyan officials said the strikes killed at least three people. There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.

Libyan rebels have been fighting since March to end Gadhafi's 42-year autocratic rule. The Libyan government says Gadhafi survived a NATO airstrike last month.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the air war in Libya has cost the United States about $750 million so far.

Meanwhile, the opposition says it is investigating the fatal shooting of a French man in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi after he and four other French nationals were stopped at a police checkpoint.

The World Food Program said Thursday fighting between rebels and pro-Gadhafi forces in Libya's western mountains is preventing food supplies from reaching trapped civilians. The U.N. agency appealed for a cease-fire to enable aid workers to deliver aid to the region from the Tunisian border.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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