Exclusive: Gadhafi, Allies May Be Seeking Way Out, Clinton tells ABC News

In WN interview, Clinton downplays concerns about coalition and power transfer.

ByABC News
March 22, 2011, 4:26 PM

March 22, 2011— -- People close to Libya's embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi are reaching out to allies around the world exploring their "options," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC News' Diane Sawyer today, and the U.S. government has gotten unconfirmed reports that at least one of Gadhafi's sons has been killed.

"We've heard about other 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 in an exclusive interview. "I'm not aware that he 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," she added. "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."

Clinton said she's also heard reports that one of Gadhafi's sons may have been killed in the air strikes. But she added that the "evidence is not sufficient" to confirm.

As coalition airstrikes attacked Gadhafi's military assets for the fourth day in a row, Clinton expressed optimism about an early handover, saying the United States would transfer leadership to another country within days. She downplayed concerns about a fracture in the coalition.

"It will be days. Whether it's by Saturday or not depends on the evaluation made by our military commanders along with our allies and partners," she said.

Watch World News tonight for more of Diane Sawyer's interview with Hillary Clinton.

U.S. partners like Italy want NATO to take charge but some of its members, like Russia and Turkey, have expressed skepticism about the goal of the U.N.-backed air strikes and the potential of civilian casualties.

Clinton said details on who will assume leadership are still being worked out but that NATO will play a front role.

"NATO will be definitely involved because we do have a lot of NATO members who are committed to this process. And, you know, they want to see command and control that is organized," she told Sawyer. "But I'm very relaxed about it... I think it is proceeding. It's moving forward in the right direction and we will have what we need in the next few days."