Ban, Obama discuss international action on Libya

Rice says Obama "reaffirmed the administration's strong belief that UN continues to play vital role in addressing transitional threats."

Obama and Ban (R) 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Obama and Ban (R) 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
NEW YORK – US President Barack Obama met with United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon in Washington on Monday to discuss international action regarding the situation in Libya.
According to US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, who spoke at a press conference following the meeting, Obama “reaffirmed the administration’s strong belief that the United Nations continues to play a vital role in addressing tough, global and transnational threats, and in doing so, its work enhances the safety and well-being of the American people.”
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Asserting that it was “vitally important for the international community to speak with one voice” on Libya, Rice said that “sanctions and accountability mechanisms should make all members of the Libyan regime think about the choice they have before them: Violate human rights and be held accountable, or stop the violence and respect the Libyan people’s call for change. There’s no escaping that critical choice.”
Rice added that despite having passed a resolution and sanctions on the subject already, the Security Council “has not finished its business and will continue to monitor the situation in Libya quite closely.”
She declared that “now is the time for Col. Gaddafi to step aside to prevent further bloodshed and to allow the Libyan people to have a government that is responsive to their aspirations.”
However, Rice stopped short of offering US military aid to rebels, saying that any talk of military assistance to any parties would be “premature.”
“With respect to the military question, we are in discussions with partners and allies in NATO and elsewhere,” she said. “We have been very clear that we have a range of options, a wide range of options that we’re considering, but it would be premature to say more than that.”
Rice added that the UN was currently dealing with questions of recognition, as Gaddafi had made a request to the secretary-general to withdraw accreditation for Libyan diplomats in New York who stood up to the regime, but could not do anything “unless and until there’s an obvious alternative government.”
“We agreed that the international community must stand firmly together during this historic transition toward a more democratic, secure and prosperous Middle East,” Ban said.
Ban spoke to reporters at the United States Holocaust Museum, which he visited after his talk with Obama at the White House, and said the Holocaust taught important lessons that could be applied to dealing with Libya.
The museum “calls upon us to remember – and to act.
‘Never again,’” the secretary general said. “Once again, we are being tested. In Libya, a regime that has lost all legitimacy has declared war on its people. It is up to us, the community of nations, to stand against this crime...
Gross violations of human rights will not be tolerated; those responsible will be punished.”
Ban said Gaddafi had lost his legitimacy when he declared war on his people.
“I sincerely hope and urge him to listen to his people’s call,” he added. “That’s my message to him.”
Ban’s remarks came a day before the UN’s General Assembly intended to vote on whether or not to suspend Libya’s membership in the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.