Benghazi, Libya (CNN) -- Libya's foreign minister said late Saturday that talks are underway between Moammar Gadhafi's government and figures in the eastern part of the North African nation.
Benghazi-based opposition spokesman Jalal Igallal, however, strongly knocked down reports of any discussions between anti-government figures and officials in Gadhafi's regime. He urged Foreign Minister Musa Kasa to say who is being talked to, if such negotiations are in fact ongoing.
Meanwhile, city councils in areas no longer loyal to Gadhafi have chosen former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdul Jalil to head an interim government that would represent all of Libya and ultimately be based in Tripoli, according to Amal Bogagies, a member of the coalition of the February 17 Uprising, and a separate Libyan opposition source. Both are based in Benghazi.
Protests began February 15 in Benghazi. That city and many others in Libya are now thought to be under opposition control, according to eyewitnesses. There have been numerous reports of widespread violence, some of it perpetrated by foreign mercenaries and military and security forces loyal to Gadhafi.
Kasa, the foreign minister, told CNN's Nic Robertson that the country was close to a civil war situation, on the same day that Saif al-Islam Gadhafi told a reporter that "life is normal" in Tripoli.
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While CNN does have staff in some cities, the network could not independently confirm reports for many areas in Libya. But CNN has compiled information through telephone interviews with witnesses.
Tripoli itself was noticeably tense but largely quiet overnight Saturday, its streets largely barren except for police and young people with sticks at some intersections.
The situation at the main airport, about 20 miles south of Tripoli, was far more chaotic. Several thousand people camped outside in makeshift tents, waiting for the chance to leave the war-torn country.
Across the Atlantic at the United Nations, international pressure intensified as the Security Council huddled Saturday in an urgent session to discuss slapping new sanctions on Gadhafi's government and referring the strongman to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.
Military and security forces loyal to Gadhafi have killed more than 1,000 people, the United Nations estimated.
More than 200 Arab organizations and a group of 30 prominent intellectuals from across the Middle East and North Africa urged global bodies, including the Security Council, the European Union and the African Union, to take action to limit further humanitarian consequences.
"We fear we may be witnessing the calm before the storm," said their statement. "The window of opportunity to prevent further atrocities from occurring is closing fast. The people of Libya need you to act quickly and decisively."
The group urged the international community to devise contingency plans for intervention and impose immediate sanctions on the Libyan regime.
"We appeal to you as leaders who have the power to bring an end to this horror," the statement said. "Your failure to do so would be a lasting stain on the responsibilities of world leadership and on humanity itself."
U.S. President Barack Obama also weighed in Saturday, telling German Chancellor Angela Merkel to "coordinate our urgent efforts to respond to developments and ensure appropriate accountability," according to a White House statement. In some of his strongest wording to date, Obama said, "when a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now."
Later, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement urging Gadhafi to step down.
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Tripoli's Green Square, occupied by pro-Gadhafi demonstrators on previous evenings, was empty Saturday night, a witness told CNN. She said her neighborhood near the square was eerily quiet.
Other frightened residents said they stayed indoors, though unable to shut off the sound of gunfire or put aside the words of Gadhafi in a public address the day before in which he vowed to keep unleashing force.
"We can destroy any assault with the people's will, with the armed people," he said on state television Friday. "And when it is necessary, the weapons depots will be open to all the Libyan people to be armed."
Gadhafi's son went on air on Al-Arabiya television Saturday, again blaming foreigners for the unrest and denying that Gadhafi's security apparatus was to blame for the bloodshed.
"Now we are here, we are in a hotel in Tripoli," said Saif al-Islam Gadhafi. "Go out and see who is ruling there. Thousands of people are doing their jobs to maintain security in the city. They are not security police or armed forces."
The prime minister, meanwhile, announced on state television that every family would receive 500 Libyan dinars ($406) from the government.
The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders said in a statement Saturday one of its teams was in Benghazi, Libya's second-biggest city. Their arrival, and a promise of future aid, marked one of the first humanitarian inroads into Libya in recent weeks.
Three main hospitals were all "well equipped and have managed to deal with the numbers of wounded people and medical needs," according to the group. But the facilities also face shortages of drugs, bandages and other medical items, which Doctors Without Borders said it will provide. The group plans to send an orthopedic surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurse on Monday.
The advocacy group Human Rights Watch said the situation was appreciably worse in Zawiya -- about 55 kilometers (35 miles) west of Tripoli and the epicenter of violent protests Thursday.
"West of Tripoli in Zawiya city, government security forces firing on demonstrators are causing bloodshed and chaos," said Sarah Leah Whitson, the group's Middle East and North Africa director.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he planned to speak with Obama in Washington Monday.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama was suspending embassy operations in Tripoli and pursuing sanctions. State Department officials said they have other channels to communicate with the Libyan government, and emphasized that relations between the two nations are not broken.
"The flag is still flying. The embassy is not closed. Operations are suspended," said Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy.
The British Embassy has done the same.
"In light of the deteriorating situation in Libya ... we have temporarily suspended the operations of the British Embassy in Tripoli," the Foreign Office said Saturday.
I say defiantly dont rush to judgement about the situation in Libya strictly based off of the western media reports. For those millions following the situation in the east get your facts dont rush to judgement strictly off of media reports. The same media who has never been friendly to Muslim Nations and Countries. I say dont believe the hype just the truth, just the truth of everything. By no means do I condone or standby human or civil rights violations by no group, faction, country, or religion by no means. But I know our history over here in the greatest nation on earth when it comes to false media slander and propoganda. We should be wary of what took place in Egpyt and Libya and what can happen over here in our country. We're focused on the middle east when we still have senseless deaths,crimes,corruption,racism,and all sorts of civil rights violations over here daily. We just dont have the outpouring of mass violence, rioting, and protesting. We live in this great land but in this great land you can display racist sentiments towards our President because of his color of skin. (THINK ABOUT IT) THACHILLONE!!!