Intl pressure mounting on Libya's Gaddafi

Friday, March 4, 2011

Beijing - Some foreign governments and international organizations heaped more pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Thursday, as Russia warned of a civil war in this Northern African country.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday called on Gaddafi to step down, while stressing that his administration is examining the "full range" of options, including the imposition of a no-fly zone.

"We are looking at every option that's out there, in addition to the non-military actions that we've taken. I want to make sure that those full ranges of options are available to me," he said in the White House at a news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Obama added he has greenlighted the use of US military aircraft to assist the exodus of foreign nationals from Libya and dispatched US teams to the Libyan border to help coordinate humanitarian efforts.

"And we are doing that not just here in the United States within our own agencies, but we're also doing it in consultation with NATO," he said.

Meanwhile, France and Britain have agreed to increase the pressure on Gaddafi to force him to cede power, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in Paris after talks with his British counterpart William Hague.

"We also agreed the international community including us and other partners will continue to plan for different contingencies, including a no-fly zone, to ensure that we can respond swiftly and resolutely to the events in Libya," Hague said.

Imposing a no-fly zone is "a responsible thing to do" as such a measure would prevent the Libyan government from bombing its civilian opponents from the air, he added.

The two ministers also called for "bold and ambitious measures" to be meted out at an extraordinary session of the European Council slated for next week to explore "approaches to the Middle East and North Africa."

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle of Germany, another leading European power, also urged the international community to impose "well-targeted" sanctions on Libya and halt cooperation with Gaddafi.

The punitive measures should put pressure on Gaddafi and force him to step down while not casting a bad effect on the Libyan people, he said at a meeting of central and eastern European foreign ministers in Slovakia. - BuaNews-Xinhua