Gaddafi may be looking for exit options: Clinton

Hillary Clinton
Washington, Mar 23: Four days into allied missile and bombing strikes against his strongholds, Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi has been reaching out to contacts worldwide, apparently looking for "exit options", US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said. She said that Obama Administration would encourage such a development.

"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 personally has reached out, but I do know that people allegedly on his behalf have been reaching out," the Secretary of State told ABC News in an interview.

Calling it "very dynamic situation", Clinton said, "We are sending a clear message by our actions in the international community that we would like to see Gaddafi leave power and transition to a different future for the Libyan people."

Clinton's observations that Gaddafi may be looking for exit came as a defiant Libyan leader, in an address in the embattled Tripoli, said he was ready to die as a martyr for his people.

Even US President Barack Obama on his first visit to Latin America warned that Gaddafi "may try to hunker down and wait it out, even in the face of a no-fly zone". But, for Secretary of State Gaddafi'' defiance is posturing and game playing.

"It's my personal opinion some of it is theatre, some of it is kind of, shall we say, game playing, to try to do one message to one group, another message to somebody else," Clinton said.

Citing Gaddafi's flip-flops, Clinton said, Because as you recall, after the Security Council acted, Gaddafi said, Well, we're going to do a ceasefire and then immediately urged his forces to move even more quickly towards Benghazi."

"So a lot of it is just the way he behaves. It's somewhat unpredictable. But some of it, we think, is exploring what are my options, where could I go, what could I do. We would encourage that," Clinton added.

Noting that the UN Security Council resolution was very broad but explicit about what was legally authorised by the international community, Clinton said that US is hundred per cent committed to enforcing it and helping others enforce it.

"There is nothing in there about getting rid of anybody. It is about protecting civilians, providing humanitarian assistance, but also enabling nations to use whatever means necessary in order to bring that about," she said.

The top American diplomat said there are many aspects to what the international community is doing to put a lot of pressure on Gaddafi and those around him.

Referring to the reports of death of one of Gaddafi's sons in the bombings, Clinton said she had heard reports that one of the Gaddafi's sons may have been killed in coalition strikes that were launched on Saturday.

Clinton also said the US will transfer the lead for the military operations to some other authority within weeks.


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