U.S. President Barack Obama says Moammar Gadhafi has “lost the legitimacy to rule” and should step down immediately.
The White House said that Mr. Obama made the remarks in a telephone conversation Saturday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The statement adds that the U.S. and German leaders shared “deep concerns” about the ongoing violent crackdown against protesters in Libya, and discussed “appropriate and effective ways” for the international community to respond.
Mr. Obama Friday signed an executive order imposing unilateral sanctions on Libya, saying continued unrest and violence there posed an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security and foreign policy. The same day, the European Union agreed to impose an arms embargo on Libya, along with a travel ban and assets freeze.
The U.N. Security Council, in its second day of emergency talks on Libya Saturday, is also considering possible sanctions.
And the 15-member body is considering a draft resolution that lays the groundwork for referring the reports of the government’s crackdown to the International Criminal Court. The judicial body would investigate whether possible war crimes or crimes against humanity have taken place during the uprising.
Libya’s ambassador to the U.N. voiced support for the provision. In a letter to the council, Ambassador Abdurrahman Shalgham said the Libyan delegation backed the U.N.’s efforts to hold those responsible for armed attacks on civilians accountable for their actions. Shalgham defected from Mr. Gadhafi’s government on Friday.
The draft text was written by Britain, France, the U.S. and Germany. Ahead of Saturday’s session, German U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig told reporters he believes the full Council is in agreement on the measure and will want “swift and quick action.”
On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council to take “concrete action” to protect anti-government protesters. He noted reports that some supporters of Mr. Gadhafi have gone into hospitals to kill wounded government opponents.
However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday he opposed sanctions. He said the restrictions would harm the Libyan people instead of the government.
Italy’s prime minister — formerly an ally of Mr. Gadhafi — says it appears the Libyan leader is no longer in control of the country. Silvio Berlusconi said Saturday if the international community pulls together, it can stop the “bloodbath and support the Libyan people.”
The U.N. said Mr. Ban phoned Mr. Berlusconi Saturday to discuss Libya and ask for Italy’s support in the international effort to handle the crisis. The U.N. said Mr. Ban also reached out to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, underscoring Saudi Arabia’s key religious and political role in the region.
Countries are also taking action to protect their own citizens from the unrest in Libya. On Saturday, Britain and Canada suspended operations at their embassies in Tripoli and evacuated their diplomatic staff.
The U.S. suspended its embassy operations in Libya on Friday.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says there are reports of mass killings in Libya that should spur the international community to step in to end the violence. She called for an independent investigation of the reports that thousands of Libyans have been killed or wounded by Libyan security forces.