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Should I tell her I am not interested going out as friends anymore directly?

ok, here's the thing. i have been hanging out with this girl i have met on scouts a year and a half ago quite a lot for some time and got friendzoned.
i was ok with it, as i was not looking for a relationship or anything. but as i hanged with her, i started to develop emotional attachement and attraction towards her. i think we quite clicked. but i assumed she is not into being anymore than just friends and cooled down on her like a year ago (she usually refers to me as friend and did not seem to be intested when i tried being touchy a bit more and other stuff)

in a way she quite adores me as a person, i see she likes to have me around and so. but i dont know how much she respects me or not.

the thing is, as i got cold towards her (didn't took much effort in replying her messages in seeing her and never actually messaged her on my own), she continued to message me all the time, almost being a bit needy sometimes.

and now, she invited me to 'hang out' with only her like the second time in a row, i said i don't have time the first time.
would she be so persistent if she was just into being friends (i think she still refers to me as a 'friend')? should i call her or ask her to call me and tell her i am not anymore intersted going out just as friends? should i first ask her if she is asking me out just as friend companion or she wants to have something more? or should i go out and try to flirt / talk through about it when we are physically together?
i dont have problems 'ruining' friendship by going cold and distance myself. i currently don't have strong feelings or obsession towards her, i am perfectly ok if she says no. i just don't want to hang out again and get attached and suffer again. and lose time doing something i dont enjoy.
i just ask what is the most appropriate thing to do, so i dont look pathetic or weird or act as a huge turn off
Should I tell her I am not interested going out as friends anymore directly?
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