The U.S. ambassador to Libya says the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi has been sending out feelers to potential mediators as the crisis in the country escalates. American envoy Gene Cretz, withdrawn from Libya late last year, says U.S. diplomatic recognition of the Libyan rebel movement is among options under study in Washington.
Cretz is providing no details of what he says are desperate attempts at outreach by the Gadhafi government.
But his comments followed a Libyan overture Friday to the African Union that it is ready to implement an AU roadmap that calls for an immediate end to all hostilities and peace talks. "It’s clear that the regime is reaching out to several possible mediators, interlocutors to try to get a message across. I’m not exactly sure what the message is. But it clearly indicates, I think, at least some kind of desperation, I think at this point," Cretz said.
In a television interview last Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said there has been outreach by people claiming to speak for Muammar Gadhafi and seeking a way out of the crisis.
Ambassador Cretz has been based in Washington since being withdrawn in December amid Libyan anger over derogatory comments about Mr. Gadhafi allegedly contained in cables from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli made public by Wikileaks.
Since the Libyan crisis erupted last month, Cretz has been spearheading U.S. outreach to the Libyan opposition.
The Obama administration has not severed diplomatic relations with the Gadhafi government and has had sporadic contact with Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa among others.
But Cretz told reporters here, extending U.S. recognition to the rebel umbrella group, the Transitional National Council, is an option under consideration. "It’s under advisement here. We are considering the issue of recognition. But it runs into several legal questions, several questions of international law. And there are other things that countries can do, short of recognition at this particular point. And it’s not prevented us from the doing the things we need to do," he said.
Cretz said the Transitional National Council is "off to a good start" in terms of organizing and policy statements on such issues as human and women’s rights.
But he said the United States still has much to learn about the Libyan opposition and will carefully monitor who is included in an interim government, if one is formed.