The United States has followed France in saying Muammar Qadhafi can stay on in Libya following his political exit, amid plans by the opposition to focus on capital Tripoli ahead of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting on the Muslim calendar.

On Wednesday, the U.S. said it would not be prescriptive on whether Mr. Qadhafi should continue to reside in Libya after he had relinquished office. White House spokesman Jay Carney said it was up to the people of Libya to pronounce on Mr. Qadhafi's residential status. He stressed Mr. Qadhafi had to first step down, and no longer remain “a threat to the people of Libya”. “And then it's up for the Libyan people to decide their own future, including what that means for Qadhafi if he's not out of the country,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe had suggested that allowing Mr. Qadhafi to stay in Libya after he had stepped down could help resolve the conflict.

While western powers are hinting at a compromise, the opposition has been calling for acceleration in the fighting. On Wednesday, a military delegation from the Benghazi-based opposition arrived in Paris seeking fresh infusion of French weaponry in the hope of heading towards Tripoli before the commencement of Ramadan next month.

Analysts point out that, its aspiration to overrun Tripoli notwithstanding, the opposition might be overstating its case.

The dissidents have been unable to take over Brega, a strategic oil town on the road heading westwards towards Tripoli. On Tuesday, 18 opposition fighters were killed around Brega during clashes with forces loyal to the regime. Heavy fighting has also been reported from Misurata, Libya's third largest city, further west of Brega. Besides this, inter-tribal conflict is in the offing in the western Nafusa mountains as members of the pro-Qadhafi Warshafana tribe prepare to take-on Berber and Arab fighters loyal to the opposition who had opened another front against the regime.

Keywords: Libya crisis

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