WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States remains firm in believing that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi must give up power, the State Department said on Sunday, after France's defense minister advocated a compromise between him and Libyan rebels.

"The Libyan people will be the ones to decide how this transition takes place, but we stand firm in our belief that Gaddafi cannot remain in power," the department said in a written reply to a query.

(Reporting by Jim Wolf, Editing by Sandra Maler)