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In a concession, rebels offer to let Gadhafi stay in Libya if he resigns

Graffiti depicting Libya leader Moammar Gadhafi adorns a wall in the rebel-held city of Banghazi.

Hassan Amar/AP

Colonel Moammar Gadhafi is welcome to live out his retirement inside Libya as long as he gives up all power, Libya's rebel chief told Reuters on Sunday in the clearest concession the rebels have so far offered.

Col. Gadhafi has fiercely resisted all international calls for him to go and vowed to fight to the end, but members of his inner circle have given indications they are ready to negotiate with the rebels, including on the Libyan leader's future.

Col. Gadhafi is still holding on to power five months into a rebellion against his 41-year rule and despite a NATO bombardment and an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for crimes against humanity.

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"As a peaceful solution, we offered that he can resign and order his soldiers to withdraw from their barracks and positions, and then he can decide either to stay in Libya or abroad," rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in an interview.

"If he desires to stay in Libya, we will determine the place and it will be under international supervision. And there will be international supervision of all his movements," said Mr. Abdel Jalil, who heads the rebels' National Transitional Council.

Speaking to Reuters in his eastern Libyan stronghold of Benghazi, Mr. Abdel Jalil, Col. Gadhafi's former justice minister, said he made the proposal about a month ago through the United Nations but had yet to receive any response from Tripoli.

He said one suggestion was that Col. Gadhafi could spend his retirement under guard in a military barracks.

Turkey, which had close economic ties to Col. Gadhafi before the uprising, pledged $200-million in aid for the rebels on Sunday, in addition to a $100-million fund it announced in June.

The rebels say they need more than $3-billion to cover salaries and other needs over the next six months.

"Public demand for reforms should be answered, Col. Gadhafi should go and Libya shouldn't be divided," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in Benghazi, adding he saw the rebel council as the "legitimate representative" of the people.

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The conflict in Libya is close to deadlock, with rebels on three fronts unable to make a decisive advance towards the Libyan capital and growing strains inside NATO about the cost of the operation and the lack of a military breakthrough.

Previous attempts to negotiate a peace deal have foundered, but some analysts say Col. Gadhafi's entourage - if perhaps not the Libyan leader himself - may look for a way out as air strikes and sanctions narrow their options.

Col. Gadhafi's daughter Aisha said last week her father would be prepared to cut a deal with the rebels though he would not leave the country, and his son, Saif al-Islam, has said Col. Gadhafi would step down if that is what the people of Libya want.

Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi - part of a hardline camp which has clashed with Saif al-Islam on policy in the past - said the Libyan people do not want Col. Gadhafi to go.

"I am a Libyan citizen ultimately, and he [Col. Gadhafi]is my leader and he has been our leader for more than 40 years," Mr. Al-Baghdadi told Al-Arabiya television channel when asked if the Libyan leader would step down.

"You see everyone, from small children to old men, all of them love Moammar. Gadhafi. They all love him," he said.

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