U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is meeting EU foreign ministers in Geneva Monday, to urge them to approve tough sanctions on Libya in response to its deadly crackdown on an anti-government uprising.
U.S. officials say Washington expects the European Union to adopt new sanctions against Libya later in the day. They say EU penalties will have a greater impact on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi than U.S. sanctions because Libya does far more commerce with Europe.
Clinton also is due to address the U.N. Human Rights Council in the Swiss city.
Before flying to Geneva Sunday, Clinton said the United States has contacted Libyan opposition groups organizing in the east of the country, and is ready to offer them “any type of assistance” to oust Mr. Gadhafi.
She said Washington wants the Libyan leader “to leave and to end his regime and call off the forces loyal to him.” She also urged neighboring African nations to stop the flow of arms and mercenaries into Libya at Mr. Gadhafi’s behest.
Two senior U.S. lawmakers on a visit to Egypt called for an even tougher line against the Libyan leader. Speaking Sunday, Republican Senator John McCain and independent Senator Joe Lieberman said Washington should recognize a provisional government being established in eastern Libya and supply it with weapons and humanitarian assistance.
McCain said the Obama administration should make it “absolutely clear” that Libyan officials involved in attacks on their own people will face prosecution for war crimes. He said Washington and its allies also should enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent pro-Gadhafi forces from again firing on civilian protesters from the air.
Lieberman spoke in similar terms, saying what is needed now is “tangible support, a no-fly zone [and] recognition of the revolutionary government.”
Some European officials also have called for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, enforced by NATO, as a way to limit Mr. Gadhafi’s ability to use air power to disperse protesters.
Britain moved quickly Sunday to implement U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on Libya a day earlier, freezing the British-based assets of Mr. Gadhafi, members of his family and their representatives.
British officials gave no details on the value of the Gadhafi family’s assets in Britain, but said they may be substantial. Libya’s sovereign wealth fund is worth about $70 billion and much of that money is believed to be controlled by Mr. Gadhafi and his relatives. Britain also revoked the diplomatic immunity of the Libyan leader, his sons and other family members.
Italy also took action against Libya, its former colony. Rome announced the suspension of a 2008 treaty with Tripoli that includes a non-aggression clause. The move announced by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini may allow Italy to take part in future peacekeeping operations in Libya.