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Clinton: Kadhafi insiders looking for exit options

By AFP
March 23, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (AFP)

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s associates have been reaching out to their contacts worldwide to see how they can “get out of this,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC News Tuesday.

“We’ve heard about … people close to him reaching out to people that they know around the world — Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America, beyond — saying what do we do? How do we get out of this? What happens next?” Clinton said.

“I’m not aware that he (Kadhafi) personally has reached out, but I do know that people allegedly on his behalf have been reaching out,” Clinton said according to excerpts of the interview to be broadcast on ABC World News.

“Some of it is theater. Some of it is, you know, kind of, shall we say game playing, to try to do one message to one group, another message to somebody else,” the chief US diplomat said.

“A lot of it is just the way he behaves. It’s somewhat unpredictable. But some of it, we think, is exploring. You know, what are my options, where could I go, what could I do. And we would encourage that,” she said.

The interview came as fighting raged between forces loyal to Kadhafi and insurgents in several towns on Tuesday despite a UN-mandated no-fly zone aimed at stopping the violence.

Clinton said she has heard reports that one of Kadhafi’s sons may have been killed in the coalition air strikes that were launched Saturday in support of the no-fly zone and protect Libyan civilians.

However, she said the “evidence is not sufficient” to confirm his death, according to the interview conducted by Diane Sawyer.

If indeed a Kadhafi son has been killed, it would not have been the result of US military action. The forces launching air strikes have also involved those from France and Britain.

Clinton said the United States will transfer the lead for the military operations to some other other authority within days, but could not say if it would be Saturday, a week after the air strikes began.

“Whether it’s by Saturday or not depends on the evaluation made by our military commanders along with our allies and partners,” she said.

Details of the new leadership role were still being developed.

“NATO will be definitely involved because we do have a lot of NATO members who are committed to this process. And, you know, they want to see command and control that is organized,” Clinton said.

“But I’m very relaxed about it… I think it is proceeding. It’s moving forward in the right direction and we will have what we need in the next few days,” the secretary said.

Copyright © 2011 AFP