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US in direct contact with the Libyan opposition leaders

Washington: As international pressure mounts on Muammar Gaddafi to step down, the US has said that it is in direct contact with the opposition leaders including members of the rebel National Council and is moving to shut down the Libyan Embassy in Washington.

"We`re talking to a lot of the opposition leaders. I will be meeting with them myself. We are suspending our relationships with the existing Libyan embassy. So we expect them to end operating as the embassy of Libya," Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, told lawmakers today.

"We are looking to see whether there is any willingness in the international community to provide any authorisation for further steps," she said.

"We are attempting and working overtime to figure out who are the people that are now claiming to be the opposition, because we know that there are some with whom we want to be allied and others with whom we would not," she added.

An hour later the White House echoed the words of Secretary Clinton.

The White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said it`s clear that Muammar Gaddafi "doesn`t intend to leave.

Responding to questions about comment from James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence that Muammar Gaddafi will "prevail" over rebels, Carney says the regime is "hunkering down" and that`s why the US is responding "the way we are".

Carney said the US is direct contact with the opposition, adding this includes "senior members of the council and other individuals within Libya.

"We`re coordinating with the opposition" to determine the "best ways to support their aspirations," he said Although there are complexities involved in the no-fly zone, the White House spokesman said, the US is "actively considering," and the US President, Barack Obama wants this as an option on his table.

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