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World Powers Agree to Military Intervention in Libya

US, European and Arab leaders gather, March 19, 2011 at the Elysee Palace in Paris after a crisis summit on Libya
US, European and Arab leaders gather, March 19, 2011 at the Elysee Palace in Paris after a crisis summit on Libya

World powers meeting in France have agreed to use military force in Libya, to end Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's assault on civilians, and reports from Benghazi say French warplanes have begun firing on Libyan government forces.  The United States says it is ready to support the cause.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said U.S., European and Arab partners meeting in Paris agreed unanimously to the use of military force in Libya, and that French planes are already guarding the skies.

He says French aircraft are preventing Colonel Gadhafi's forces from attacking the town of Benghazi - the stronghold of anti-government rebels - and that France has other planes ready to attack tanks on the ground.

The French intervention comes as pro-government forces advanced on rebels despite a cease-fire declared by Gadhafi Friday.

U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters in Brazil Saturday, said the United States is united with its international partners on the need to take action.

"Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear. The people of Libya must be protected, and in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians, our coalition is prepared to act and act with urgency," he said.

The meeting followed a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing world powers to establish a "no-fly" zone over Libya, and to use "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who attended the Paris meeting, said the United States will support its international allies in the effort. "Now America has unique capabilities, and we will bring them to bear to help our European and Canadian allies and Arab partners stop further violence against civilians, including through the effective implementation of a 'no-fly' zone," she said.

Clinton emphasized that the United States will not be deploying ground troops.  She said Arab participation  in the effort is "crucial," and that she looks forward to the Arab League's continued leadership going forward.

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