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The United States will establish a special representative to engage in discussions with the opposition in Libya, President Barack Obama said Friday.

‘We have determined that it’s appropriate for us to assign a representative whose specific job is to interact with the opposition and determine ways that we can further help them,’ Obama said. ‘And so we’re going to be in close consultation with them.’

The White House signaled Thursday that it was prepared to send diplomats to Benghazi, a rebel stronghold in eastern Libya, as the international community increases ties with the opponents of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi. Gaddafi has launched a fierce counterassault against the rebels.

Obama reiterated his call on Gaddafi to resign and said the US will work closely with other nations and international organizations to reach that goal. He did not rule out military options.

‘We’re going to take a wide range of actions to try to bring about that outcome,’ Obama said.

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