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March 23rd, 2011
06:15 PM ET

Gadhafi's aides in touch but unclear on intentions

Elise Labott
CNN Senior State Department Producer

Washington (CNN) - Members of Moammar Gadhafi's inner circle are contacting the United States and other Arab states, but have been unclear about their intentions, senior U.S, officials said.

In an inteview on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised the prospect that Gadhafi and his inner circle were exploring their options, including seeking a way to leave Libya to escape a sustained bombing campaign by U.S.-led forces.

"We've heard about other people close to him reaching out to people that they know around the world," Clinton told ABC News. She described the communications as the Libyans exploring options and asking "What do we do?" "How do we get out of this?" "What happens next?"

In the interview, Clinton cautioned that some of what U.S. intelligence was picking up was probably "game playing" and "theater," and that the Libyan leader was unpredictable.

Abdullah Sanussi, Gadhafi's close confidant and brother-in-law, has called the State Department almost daily, and Foreign Minister Musa Kusa has also reached out several times, senior U.S. officials told CNN. Additionally, Arab allies have told U.S. officials they have been contacted by members of Gadhafi's inner circle.

However, the officials said that none of Gadhafi's inner circle have indicated Gadhafi was ready to leave, nor have any of them suggested they are ready to abandon Gadhafi.

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