U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will look at “all possible options” in order to influence the Libyan government and bring an end to its violent crackdown against protesters.
Speaking at the State Department Wednesday, Clinton said the U.S. is working closely with international partners to send a clear message to the Libyan government that violence is unacceptable and that the regime of leader Moammar Gadhafi will be held accountable for its actions. Clinton said Washington’s foremost concern must be the safety and security of its citizens, indicating all measures were being taken to assist in their evacuation from Libya.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said earlier Wednesday the United States has a number of options for taking action against Libya including bilateral or multilateral sanctions. He said it is important that any steps the U.S. takes be coordinated with the international community.
The European Union has already decided to prepare sanctions against Libya. Such measures could include visa bans and asset freezes.
Also Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeated his condemnation of the violence in Libya, saying attacks on civilians are a serious violation of international law. Mr. Ban called the scale of the attacks “egregious” and said those responsible must be held to account. He called on the Libyan government to “protect its people.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged the EU to impose “concrete sanctions” against Libya. He said those involved in the ongoing violence must know that they will “assume the consequences of their actions.”
European Council President Herman van Rompuy on Wednesday condemned what he called “violence, aggression and intimidation” against Libyan demonstrators. He called for an “immediate end to the use of force.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would like to see a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Libya’s use of force against protesters. After a Tuesday meeting, the council expressed “grave concern” about Mr. Gadhafi’s crackdown.
Iran’s state-run media say President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged Mr. Gadhafi to meet public demands. Reports say Mr. Ahmadinejad expressed outrage at the “bad behavior of the Libyan government” toward its citizens.
On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi telephoned Mr. Gadhafi to personally urge him to stop the violence. Mr. Berlusconi has had a friendly relationship with the Libyan leader, based in part on Italy’s interests in securing energy supplies from its former colony and its desire for Libyan cooperation in stopping migrants from sailing to Italy.
The Libyan leader also faced diplomatic pressure from his Arab neighbors. The Arab League held an emergency session in Cairo Tuesday, agreeing to suspend Libya from participating in its meetings. Arab League chief Amr Moussa said violence against protesters must end.