US sees 'contradictory' messages on Gaddafi future

WASHINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday expressed doubts about contacts between emissaries for Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and NATO members, saying the messages being received were contradictory and unclear.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the United States was aware that “a lot of folks” claiming to speak for Gaddafi were in touch with various western countries.

Nuland said the “messages are contradictory” and there is no clear communication that “Gaddafi is prepared to understand that its time for him to go.”

Nuland was speaking after French officials said that Gaddafi’s emissaries were indicating that the embattled Libyan leader was prepared to go and that a political solution was “beginning to take shape” for the country. [ID:nLDE76A1NC].

U.S. officials have consistently downplayed reports of contacts between Gaddafi’s inner circle and the NATO-led coalition seeking his ouster, saying only a clear commitment by Gaddafi to stop violence and step down from power could end the conflict.

Nuland said the United States remained committed to fulfilling the mandate of U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, which was passed in March and authorized the use of military force to protect Libyan civilians.

“Unless and until we are sure that the conditions of 1973 can be met and (Gaddafi) understands that its time for him to step down, we do not have a solution,” she said.

Reporting by Andrew Quinn