U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the Obama administration will look at all possible options to persuade Libyan authorities to end violence against protestors. Clinton discussed Libya strategy with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, whose government is the current president of the U.N. Security Council.
Clinton is rejecting suggestions that the Obama administration has been timid in its response to the Libyan bloodshed, and said that “everything will be on the table” in discussions at the United Nations and elsewhere about how to curb government violence in Libya.
At a joint press event after talks with her Brazilian counterpart, Clinton said the United States has made it absolutely clear that it condemns the violence against Libyan protestors.
She suggested that given limited U.S. leverage with Libya, a response to the crisis must be international, through, among other things, the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneve.
The State Department said earlier Wednesday it is looking at imposing sanctions against Libya while also voicing at least some easing of concern about U.S. citizens caught up in the Libyan crisis.
Clinton said in forging a response to the bloodshed, the safety of Americans still in Libya remains the top priority.
“Everything will be on the table," said Hillary Clinton. "We will look at all the possible options to try to bring an end to the violence, to try to influence the government. But as I said yesterday, in any situation our foremost concern has to be for the safety and security of our own citizens, just as the foreign minister’s concern has to be for the safety and security of Brazilian citizens. And we are encouraging Americans to leave Libya.”
Foreign Minister Patriota, whose country is involved in several energy and infrastructure projects in Libya, expressed relief that violence has not been directed against foreigners, and said Brazil’s concern about the situation is no less than Washington’s.
“What to us is a very worrying element here is the use of force against unarmed protestors," said Patriota. "Otherwise, we see the manifestations in North Africa and the Arab world as a movement that can only elicit solidarity from the Brazilian people in as much as it is a movement for better governance, more participation in decision-making, more job opportunity, a better future for the youth of these countries.”
After expressing concern earlier that Libya had barred the departure of Americans, the State Department Wednesday said Libyan authorities had been cooperative in helping American and other foreign nationals board a chartered ferry in Tripoli bound for Malta.
Officials here said they believed most of the roughly 35 U.S. embassy dependents and non-essential employees ordered evacuated Monday had boarded the ferry.
The State Department estimates that several thousand U.S. citizens reside in Libya. Most hold dual citizenship with about 600 carrying U.S. passports only and many of them working for oil companies.