ZINTAN, Libya — France said Wednesday that Moammar Gadhafi could remain in Libya if he agreed to step down and renounce all leadership roles.

As diplomats struggle to find a political solution to end the country’s five-month civil war, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said of Gadhafi, “One of the scenarios effectively envisaged is that he stays in Libya on one condition, which I repeat: that he very clearly steps aside from Libyan political life.”

Juppe said any cease-fire and cessation of NATO bombing would depend on Gadhafi formally surrendering his roles as military and civilian leader of Libya. Though Gadhafi holds no elected office, he has ruled Libya for 42 years.

Juppe said that no talks were under way but that U.N. envoy Abdul Elah al-Khatib had been asked to coordinate contacts with Gadhafi envoys.

U.S. officials met with Gadhafi representatives on Saturday to press the Libyan leader to end the fighting. A senior Obama administration official with detailed knowledge of the meeting said, “The message was simple and unambiguous — Gadhafi must leave power so that a new political process can begin that reflects the will and aspirations of the Libyan people.”

Rebel military commanders fighting Gadhafi government forces in the mountains south of Tripoli have repeatedly rejected suggestions by European and African diplomats that Gadhafi be allowed to remain in the country.