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Top US Official: Gadhafi Regime 'Absolutely' Past Tipping Point

Salah Malkawi/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sunday night, President Obama said Moammar Gadhafi's regime is at a "tipping point."  And on Monday morning, the top U.S. diplomat on the ground went even further, telling ABC's chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos that the 42-year rule is "absolutely" past the tipping point.

“What’s clear is that the wind [is] in the sails of the rebels, that the rebels are winning, that it’s only a matter of time now before Gadhafi has to step down, before Gadhafi loses the entire country,” Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman said on ABC's Good Morning America.

ABC News spoke to Feltman as news broke that the rebels now control 95 percent of Tripoli.  He said until Gadhafi takes steps to prove he has resigned, no one will negotiate with him for safe passage out of the country.

Feltman said the U.S. doesn’t know where Gadhafi is but that “almost doesn’t matter.”

“The rebels are clearly taking over the city, taking over the institutions, we just got reports that they have taken over state television,” he said.  “[Gadhafi] has become, for all intents and purposes, part of Libya’s past and now people need to look to build Libya’s better future.”

Feltman spent the past several days with rebel officials in Benghazi talking about what a post-Gadhafi Libya would look like.  The first thing the rebel leaders have done is reiterate a message of no retribution.

“They clearly have thought through how to make sure to avoid a cycle of revenge killings and to make sure essential services continue to be delivered.  We’ll see what happens in practice on the ground of course, one can’t really predict this,” Feltman said.  “But they are, they have worked through the scenarios and have maintained and nurtured contacts inside Tripoli to help preserve security and stability in the capitol.”

When asked if the chaos that followed the fall of Sadaam Hussein in Iraq could be avoided in Libya, Feltman said they are working on minimizing that potential risk but can’t predict anything -- including if the new leaders would form an alliance with al Qaeda or other enemies of the United States.

“I think the assassination of Abdel Fattah Younis, the chief of staff a few weeks ago, highlighted the dangers of some of the Islamic elements inside the fighting militias of Libya and people are definitely pushing back against that in order to ensure that a moderate, secular Libya is the one that emerges from 42 years of Gadhafi tyranny,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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