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US Stresses Next Steps on Libya Must be Coordinated

US Stresses Next Steps on Libya Must be Coordinated
US Stresses Next Steps on Libya Must be Coordinated

Members of President Barack Obama's national security team met Wednesday as the president considered future steps on the situation in Libya.  Mr. Obama is not ready to take specific action, which aides says will require agreement among international partners.

As the United States and other nations prepare to advance a coordinated response on Libya, President Obama continues to receive regular briefings on the situation in the North African country.

The National Security Council "principals" committee that met on Wednesday includes officials from the Departments of State and Defense, the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Central Intelligence Agency.

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney made clear that the session was not expected to produce decisions or recommendations requiring presidential action.

"We are not at a decision point.  We are considering these options.  We are actively considering a no-fly zone; we are very committed to pursuing a process by which the options that we do decide on that we work with our international partners to take them and implement them," he said.

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is scheduled to attend a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, focusing on preparations for an emergency response and humanitarian relief in Libya.

In discussing what he called "dramatic" steps already taken by the United States and international community, including sanctions against Libya, Carney said there is no timetable for further decisions.  But he stressed the importance of coordinated action.   

"That is a powerful message to the people of Libya, to the Libyan regime, and to the people around the region [that] this is not about the U.S.  It's not about Western powers, European powers; it is about the people of the region and in this case the people of Libya," he said.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has warned against any effort to impose a no-fly zone over his country, saying in a television interview that this would result in Libyans taking up arms against Western nations.

White House Press Secretary Carney differentiated between what he called a process of preparing for potential contingencies, evaluating options and preparing diplomatic language, and a decision by the international community to pursue a specific course of action.

Carney said it is the "strong preference" of the United States to work with the United Nations, NATO and other international partners on options being reviewed.  He restated President Obama's position that Moammar Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to rule and must step down.

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