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France hints Gadhafi could quit, retire

  |   July 20, 2011 at 4:21 PM
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PARIS, July 20 (UPI) -- A scenario in which Moammar Gadhafi leaves office but stays in Libya doesn't change the U.S. stance the Libyan leader must go, the White House said Wednesday.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Wednesday Gadhafi might stay in Libya if he resigns in a peace deal.

"One of the possibilities is that he remains in Libya," Alain Juppe told the French channel LCI. "But on the condition that he stays away from Libyan political life. This is what we are waiting for before we begin the political process for a cease-fire."

"The United States' position has always been that Col. Gadhafi lost his legitimacy to lead and that he needs to be removed from power, remove himself from power," White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a news briefing. "It is up to the Libyan people to decide what his future is beyond that. I mean, so it's not for us to say."

Gadhafi has lost his legitimacy and has become increasingly isolated "not just from the world, but from his own country," Carney said.

The issue is Gadhafi's removal from power so he no longer is a threat to the Libyan people, Carney said.

"And then it's up to the Libyan people to decide their own future, including what that means for Gadhafi if he's not out of the country," the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, the Libyan regime's TV played another defiant audio message from Gadhafi Tuesday vowing never to give up.

A rebel spokesman, Col. Ahmed Banni, told CNN Wednesday his forces have surrounded the key oil center of Brega but Gadhafi forces have planted thousands of mines there.

At least 20 rebel fighters have been killed in Brega since Thursday, mostly by landmine explosions, he said.

Banni appealed to "the United States to help clear those landmines using its high technology, even from the air."

He said NATO helicopters have bombed convoys supplying Gadhafi forces in Brega from Sirte.

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