News / USA

Obama Monitoring Libya Situation

President Barack Obama speaks at the Winning the Future Forum on Small Business at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Feb. 22, 2011.
President Barack Obama speaks at the Winning the Future Forum on Small Business at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Feb. 22, 2011.



President Obama's advisers are keeping him informed on developments in Libya. The president has made no additional remarks on Libya since a written statement last week condemning violence against peaceful protesters, but he continues to monitor the situation closely.

As with political upheaval in Egypt and Tunisia, and demonstrations in other countries in the region, administration statements continue to call for an end to violence against peaceful protesters, and stress the importance of respecting universal rights and freedoms.

President Obama has received regular updates on Libya, and the situation in other countries, from his National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.  

However, since a written statement last week about Libya, the president has left it to Secretary of State Clinton to be the primary public face and voice of the U.S. response.

At the State Department on Tuesday, Clinton said the U.S. and the international community strongly condemn violence in Libya, and mentioned what she called reports of hundreds of people killed and many more injured.

As President Obama flew to Ohio for an event highlighting his economic policies, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Mr. Obama was not expected to make any additional statement for now.

Carney said the United States is working with other countries and participating in meetings at the United Nations, saying the international community can be most effective "when it speaks with one voice."

He supplied no information about conversations President Obama may have had with other world leaders about the situation in Libya.

Asked if events in Libya show that efforts in recent years by the U.S. and European governments to "rehabilitate"  Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were a mistake, Carney would only repeat the standard administration position about the need to end violence against peaceful protesters, and respect basic universal rights and legitimate aspirations for reform.

Anti-Gadhafi demonstrators in front of the White House, Feb. 22, 2011
Anti-Gadhafi demonstrators in front of the White House, Feb. 22, 2011

Before President Obama returned to Washington from his brief visit to Ohio, about 30 protesters carrying anti-Gadhafi signs staged a demonstration in front of the White House calling for the Libyan leader to step down.

On the president's schedule late Tuesday was a meeting, also attended by Vice President Joe Biden, with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

As President Obama considers next steps where Libya is concerned, two powerful U.S. lawmakers were making their own recommendations, this as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi spoke defiantly on television and refused to step down.

Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who heads the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, called for economic sanctions against Libya, including an asset freeze and travel ban on Libyan officials.

Senator John Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Lehtinen in calling for Libya's removal from the U.N. Human Rights Council.  Kerry also said the international community should put Libyan military commanders on notice that they could face international war crimes charges.

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