WASHINGTON - The United States on Thursday distanced itself from efforts to hunt down Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, saying neither U.S. assets nor NATO forces were targeting the fugitive strongman.
Comments by Pentagon and State Department officials highlighted Washington's sensitivity toward any perceived shift in NATO's military mission in Libya toward direct involvement in in regime change.
NATO's mission, as authorized by the United Nations, is to protect Libyan civilians -- not take out Gaddafi, even as he becomes the focus of the apparent final chapter in the rebel overthrow of his regime.
"Neither the United States nor NATO is involved in this manhunt," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
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