The Obama administration has reportedly begun searching for a country which could provide Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shelter if he is forcibly removed from power, The New York Times said Sunday, amid potential complications that could arise if Gaddafi were indicted by the International Criminal Court for the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 and crimes against his own people in the recent conflict.

According to The New York Times, the Obama administration may seek an African country that is not a signatory of the treaty that requires extraditing those indicted by the court. The US-proposed idea is that sending Gaddafi to a country that can guarantee his safety may give him more incentive to step down, which would allow the US to fulfill its mission of seeing the leader out while not resorting to sending ground troops to Libya.

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On Saturday, the US president acknowledged that the military situation on the ground in Libya had reached a stalemate. On top of that, no credible rebel leader has emerged as a likely successor to the Libyan dictator, who has ruled the North African country for more than 40 years. 

Up to this point, Gaddafi has shown no sign of a willingness to step down. Pro-Gaddafi forces continued to shell rebel locations in Misrata on Sunday, and the leader himself has said that he has no intention to yield power. While the UN has stated that foreign operations cannot specifically focus on ousting Gaddafi, Western countries have publicly announced that their mission includes removing him from power.

Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy published a joint newspaper article on Friday vowing to continue their military campaign until Gaddafi leaves power, saying their new aim was not only to protect Libyan civilians, but also to remove the Libyan despot. Both leaders said that Libya could never be safe under Gaddafi's guise.

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A senior US official was quoted in  The New York Times as saying that unlike in Iraq, the US administration wanted to make sure that Libyan citizens played an active role in creating a new government if Gaddafi is removed, whether by force or of his own free will. "We're simply trying...to organize some peaceful way to organize an exit, if the opportunity arises."

As for where to send the Libyan leader if such an "opportunity arises," both African and Western countries are staying quiet. The African Union, while making subtle suggestions, has not singled out a specific country. While nearly half of all African countries are signatories of the Rome Statute, which requires the extradition of those indicted by the International Court, no government seems ready yet to openly offer Gaddafi a potential refuge should he leave Libya.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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