LONDON — A senior administration official says the U.S. will soon send an envoy to Libya to meet with leaders of the rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

The official says American diplomat Chris Stevens will travel to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in the coming days to establish better ties with groups seeking to oust the longtime Libyan leader.

The move doesn't constitute formal recognition of the opposition.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was preparing to meet Libyan opposition envoy Mahmoud Jibril in London.

Clinton will then attend a 40-nation conference on Libya's future.