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Ousting Gadhafi Is End Goal, U.S. Says

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) — There is unity among the parties involved that see the ultimate goal as ousting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power, a U.S. State Department official said.

The rebel-backed Transitional National Council for Libya has made diplomatic gains in recent weeks. It’s widely recognized as the legitimate authority by members of the NATO-led operation in Libya and is moving to set up a diplomatic presence in many Western countries.

Saif Gadhafi, one of the Libyan leader’s sons, said in a recent interview with The New York Times that he was trying to work with radical Islamic elements within the Libyan rebel movement.

A leader in the rebel government in Benghazi, meanwhile, said rival factions were responsible for killing a key TNC leader last week, raising concerns opposition forces in Libya were showing signs of division.

U.S. officials have brushed off suggestions that unity within the Libyan rebel movement was unraveling.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said he questioned much of the rhetoric coming out of the Gadhafi regime in Tripoli.

He acknowledged there were problems with “cohesion” but stressed rebels were working on addressing those problems.

“I think it’s fair to say that the TNC is aware of that potential problem and working (on it),” he said. “But at this point, there’s unity towards the ultimate goal, which is ousting Gadhafi.”

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