US to sanction Libya, suspend diplomatic activity

White House announcement comes as hundreds of Americans evacuated from Libya; spokesman says Gaddafi's legitimacy "reduced to zero."

February 25, 2011 22:17
1 minute read.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

Carney 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

The US has decided to impose unilateral sanctions against Libya and suspend diplomatic activities in the country, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a press conference on Friday.

Carney added that the US strongly supports suspending Libya from the United Nations.

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He stated that the US is also working with European partners on additional sanctions and other multilateral actions that could be taken.

The announcement Friday comes as hundreds of Americans were evacuated from Libya following days of violence. Militias loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have been firing on protesters demanding the Libyan leader's ouster.

Carney said US President Barack Obama will meet with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Washington Monday to discuss the situation in Libya.

He said that Gaddafi has lost the confidence of his people after brutal attacks by his supporters on protesters demanding his ouster.

Carney stopped short of calling for Gaddafi to step down. But he said it is clear that Gaddafi's legitimacy has been "reduced to zero."

Carney's strong words were a shift for the White House, which has thus far refrained from referring to Gaddafi by name.

Earlier on Friday, Governments around the world sharply condemned Libya's crackdown against opposition protesters Friday, calling for a probe into possible crimes against humanity and recommending the country's suspension from the UN's top human rights body.

The unanimous decision at the end of a daylong emergency meeting of the UN Human Rights Council was dramatically preceded by the public defection of all Libyan diplomats in Geneva to the opposition — swelling the rebellion of Libyan officials around the globe.

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