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March 14, 2011

White House Defends US Policy on Libya

by Kent Klein

The Obama administration on Tuesday defended its deliberate approach to formulating a policy on Libya. Officials say they would prefer to act in concert with the international community.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says President Barack Obama and his administration have acted "with the utmost urgency" to the fighting in Libya.

At a White House briefing, reporters asked whether the president is taking too long to make a decision, allowing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces to overwhelm rebel fighters.

Carney told reporters that the president is trying to ensure that whatever decision he makes - including possibly imposing a no-fly zone over Libya - is the right one. "I do not believe that the American people would want the U.S. president to act unilaterally in a way to engage militarily without taking careful consideration of what the consequences of that would be, what the goals of the action would be," he said.

The president’s spokesman said it is important that the United States proceeds in cooperation with the international community. "Action like that should be considered and taken, if decided upon, in coordination with our international partners because it is very important in the way that we respond to a situation like we see in Libya that it be international and not unilateral, that it include the support and participation, for example, of the Arab League and other organizations and countries in the region," he said.

Carney said the Obama administration would look to the United Nations as a forum for evaluating whatever option the president chooses.

Tuesday was the deadline for plans for a no-fly zone to be submitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  NATO’s North Atlantic Council is scheduled to review those plans on Wednesday.

Carney said he did not believe that imposition of a no-fly zone or other military options in Libya would require approval from the U.S. Congress.

He said if the flight restrictions on Libyan forces were enacted, they would represent "a serious action."