July 20 (Reuters) - Following are the latest political and military developments in the Libyan crisis.
* Libya’s foreign minister denied on Wednesday there were talks about easing Muammar Gaddafi out of power, but said his government wanted to end the nation’s bloody conflict in a way that would satisfy all Libyans.
* Gaddafi could stay in Libya if he gives up power, France said on Wednesday, signalling a new effort to find a diplomatic solution to a five-month-old war.
* Eighteen rebel fighters were killed and up to 150 wounded in clashes with forces loyal to Gaddafi for control of the eastern oil hub of Brega on Tuesday, a doctor in a rebel-controlled town said.
* The head of NATO said in an interview published on Wednesday that opposition forces had been making progress in Libya and he expected rebel units in the east and west of the country to join forces.
* Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday that compromise was possible between Libya’s rebels and government and added that supporting one side in the conflict was “exceptionally bad” for Libya.
* Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 could spike up to as high as $175 per barrel briefly next year if the global oil market stays tight, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said on Wednesday, noting that it does not expect Libyan oil to return to world markets until the end of next year. If Libyan oil takes much longer to return to the market, and other supply and demand fundamentals remain very bullish, there is a chance of a very sharp rise in prices, the bank said.
* NATO said it conducted 113 air sorties on Tuesday, 40 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:
— Five armed vehicles and one armoured fighting vehicle near Brega;
— One anti-aircraft gun and two armed vehicles near Misrata;
— Six surface-to-missile launchers and two armed vehicles near Tripoli;
— One military storage facility near Waddan;
— Two command and control nodes, two military storage facilities, three military facilities and two military refuelling areas near Zlitan.
* Since NATO took over command of air strikes on March 31, its aircraft have conducted 15,782 sorties, including 5,942 strike sorties. NATO members participating in air strikes in Libya include France, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Italy and the United States.
* Seventeen ships under NATO command are patrolling the central Mediterranean Sea to enforce a U.N. arms embargo. On Tuesday, 10 vessels were hailed to determine destination and cargo. Three were boarded but they were not diverted.
A total of 1,823 vessels have been hailed, 179 boarded and nine diverted since the start of the arms embargo. (Reporting by Alysha Love and David Brunnstrom)