French President Nicolas Sarkozy is planning a trip to Libya on Thursday, the French magazine Marianne reported, in what would be the first visit by a foreign head of state since the toppling of Muammar Gadhafi's regime.
The visit would give Sarkozy, who faces an election in eight months after pushing Western powers to overthrow Gadhafi, a chance to tout the success of a NATO air campaign in which France played a key role.
The newspaper Le Figaro said the trip could include stops in both Tripoli and Benghazi, the birthplace of the Western-backed rebel uprising.
Marianne reported on its website that Sarkozy would depart for his surprise trip to Libya with nearly 80 riot police, who had been instructed to be ready for departure aboard a military airplane on Wednesday night.
The trip is not posted on the president's official agenda and the Elysee presidential palace did not confirm it, noting that Sarkozy had expressed a wish to visit Libya when circumstances allowed and that the security situation meant any visit was unlikely to be announced in advance.