Kadhafi aides exploring way out of crisis, US hints

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011 (AFP) - A top aide to US President Barack Obama, hinted Wednesday that those close to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi had contacted the US administration to explore ways out of the conflict.

Denis McDonough, the deputy national security adviser, told MSNBC television that the air strikes launched Saturday by US, French and British forces were having an impact on the regime.

"It wouldn't surprise me.... given intense pressure that he (Kadhafi) and his inner circle are under as a result of the remarkable work of our troops, there are some of them reaching out looking for opportunities to get out in the middle of that," McDonough said.

"But I'm not going to get into details of that," he said when asked whether Kadhafi aides were seeking ways out of the conflict.

A senior US administration official told AFP meanwhile that there have been recent contacts between Kadhafi's regime and the Obama administration, although he linked the phone calls to issues such as the release of four journalists.

In an interview with ABC television on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Kadhafi aides had been reaching out to their contacts in the North America and other countries saying, "What do we do? How do we get out of this?"

The chief US diplomat added: "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.

"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.

A senior US official told AFP meanwhile that Abdullah al-Senussi, the head of Libyan military intelligence and Kadhafi's brother-in-law, telephoned Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.

This handout picture released by ECPAD (The French Defence communication and audiovisual production agency) shows a mecanician mounting a Mica missile on a Rafale jet fighter, on March 23, 2011 in the mediterranean sea aboard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle during military operations in Libya. AFP HOTO / CYRIL DAVESNE / MARINE NATIONALE

But he said the conversation was about attempts to win the release of four New York Times journalists. A Senussi aide then called Feltman back later to say the authorities had "found" them and would release them.

The official said Feltman has also talked to Libyan Foreign Minister Mussa Kussa, but it was not clear whether their most recent conversation also had to do with the release of the journalists.

These top Libyans have called Feltman "periodically throughout this crisis," though not in the last couple of days, the official said.

Other news