June 16 (Reuters) - Following are the latest political and military developments in the Libyan crisis.
* Russia and China expressed concern about the situation in Libya on Thursday and urged strict adherence to U.N. Security Council resolutions. The warning to the West came in a joint declaration signed by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow.
* A boat has docked in a southern Tunisian port carrying 19 Libyan military servicemen, including officers, who fled the violence in their country, Tunisia’s state news agency reported.
* Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi is willing to hold elections and step aside if he lost, his son said on Thursday, an offer unlikely to placate his opponents but which could test the unity of the Western alliance trying to force him out.
* An envoy leading Moscow’s efforts to help end the war in Libya arrived in Tripoli on Thursday for talks with Gaddafi’s government.
* A series of loud blasts rocked central Tripoli early on Thursday morning and smoke could be seen rising above Gaddafi’s fortified compound.
* The cost of U.S. military operations and humanitarian assistance in Libya was $716 million as of June 3 and is projected to reach $1.1 billion by Sept. 30, a White House report said.
* The White House told Congress on Wednesday President Barack Obama has the legal authority to press on with U.S. military involvement in Libya and urged lawmakers not to send “mixed messages” about their commitment to the NATO-led air war.
* U.N. Security Council permanent member Britain urged the African Union on Wednesday to send a strong message that Gaddafi must step down if civil war is to end.
* Libya’s government approved a $31.4 billion budget for the rest of 2011, the official news agency said on Wednesday, a move apparently aimed at showing it was functioning as normal despite air strikes and sanctions.
* NATO risks sliding into a ground war in Libya and is trying to kill Gaddafi, Russia’s ambassador to the alliance said on Wednesday.
* NATO said it conducted 134 air sorties on Wednesday, 44 of them strike sorties that aim to identify and hit targets but do not always deploy munitions.
NATO said key targets hit on Tuesday included:
— One vehicle storage area, one command and control node in Tripoli
— One command and control node in the vicinity of Tripoli
— One anti-aircraft gun in the vicinity of Zuwarah
— Two anti aircraft guns, one tank, one technical vehicle, one lightweight weapon In the vicinity of Zintan
— One ammunition storage in the vicinity of Waddan
— Two rocket launchers, one anti-aircraft gun in the vicinity of Misrata
* Since NATO took over command of air strikes on March 31, its aircraft have conducted 11,241 sorties, including 4,256 strike sorties. NATO members participating in air strikes in Libya include: France, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Italy and the United States.
* Nineteen ships under NATO command are patrolling the central Mediterranean Sea to enforce a U.N. arms embargo. On Wednesday, 25 vessels were hailed to determine destination and cargo. One was boarded but none diverted.
A total of 1,369 vessels have been hailed, 96 boarded and eight diverted since the start of the arms embargo.