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Obama: 'We Are Saving Innocent Lives' In Libya

President Barack Obama delivers his address on Libya at the National Defense University in Washington, March 28, 2011
President Barack Obama delivers his address on Libya at the National Defense University in Washington, March 28, 2011

President Barack Obama says the United States is at the center of efforts to build a better future for the Libyan people, but is not acting alone. The president spoke one day after laying out his policy on Libya.

President Obama said Tuesday American leadership is helping an international coalition to save innocent lives in Libya.  

"We are making it clear that the United States of America and the world stand with those who seek to determine their own destiny, free from fear, and free to dream of a day when they, too, can live in justice and dignity.  I think that is the essence of American leadership.  That is what it means to lead," he said.

The president spoke in New York, one day after he made a televised speech detailing how the U.S. would work with other countries to support Libyans fighting against the forces of their country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

Mr. Obama has said Mr. Gadhafi’s troops have killed innocent civilians, and that the Libyan leader had threatened to kill many more.

The U.S. is handing over the lead of the international military action in Libya to NATO.

Diplomats from more than 30 countries and the Libyan opposition met in London Tuesday.  They agreed to continue airstrikes until Mr. Gadhafi complies with a United Nations resolution calling on him to stop attacks on the Libyan people.

In London, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Mahmoud Jibril, a representative of Libya’s political opposition.

President Obama said Tuesday the London meetings showed how nations can work together, with U.S. help. "That is how the international community should work,more nations.  The United States right there at the center of it, but not alone," he said.

Reaction to the president’s Monday address has varied along political lines.  Many opposition Republicans contend Mr. Obama was not specific enough in spelling out how the Libya mission will proceed.

Secretary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, are to brief lawmakers from both parties Wednesday on the operation.

Secretary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, spoke just before Mr. Obama at Tuesday’s dedication of a new building housing the U.S. mission to the U.N.

The building is named for Mr. Clinton’s Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who was killed in a 1996 plane crash in Croatia while on a trade mission to the Balkans.

Mr. Clinton said Brown would be proud of what President Obama is doing in Libya.

Related video report by Robert Raffaele:

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