Clinton: We’re ‘reaching out’ to Libyan opposition

US secretary of state heads to Geneva to consult with allies on next step to end crisis; UN Security Council asks ICC to investigate Libya.

Clinton 311  reuters (photo credit: Reuters)
Clinton 311 reuters
(photo credit: Reuters)
The United States has reached out to the Libyan opposition in the eastern part of the country and is prepared to offer them assistance, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said as she headed for Geneva on Sunday to address the UN Human Rights Council.
“We’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well,” she said.
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“We’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone [in Libya] wishes to have from the United States,” Clinton added.
The US has been very clear that it wants Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi to step down and call off the mercenaries and the remainder of the troops that are loyal to him, she said.
“We have consistently in many conversations over the last week sent messages, and along with partners in the region and beyond have made it clear we expect him to leave. But we’re not involved in any kind of negotiation with him over that,” Clinton said.
She is one of at least 16 foreign ministers who plan to address the opening event of the Human Rights Council’s 16th session on Monday.
It’s expected that many of the international leaders will speak about Libya and the changes in the Arab world.
While in Geneva, Clinton said, she would meet with many of her counterparts to discuss ways to implement the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, which was unanimously adopted late Saturday night.
The Security Council approved an arms embargo against Libya and asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the violence there.
It imposed a travel ban on Gaddafi and members of his family and froze their assets. It also banned the travel of top officials in Gaddafi’s regime involved in violence against demonstrators.
French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud told reporters after the vote that the Security Council actions went well beyond Libya and touched on the winds of change sweeping the Arab world.
“It is a warning to all leaders who would be tempted to use repression against this wind of change and liberty,” he said. “We felt it in the Security Council.
You are feeling it in the corridors. There is an earthquake and this earthquake has reached New York.”
In this new era, he said, the international community has the responsibility to protect defenseless people whose governments have acted against them.
“If a government is not willing or able to protect its own population, it means that the international community has the right and the duty to step in,” Araud said.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Saturday night’s vote was historic.
“I can’t remember a time when the council has acted so swiftly, decisively and unanimously on an urgent matter of human rights,” she said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the resolution sent “a strong message that gross violations of basic human rights will not be tolerated, and that those responsible for grave crimes will be held accountable.”
Libyan’s Deputy UN Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi welcomed the vote.
“We owed this message to the Libyan people,” he said.
Council members, however, did not consider imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, and no UN-sanctioned military action was planned. NATO also has ruled out any intervention in Libya.
In Geneva on Friday, the UN Human Rights Council called for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya and recommended Libya’s suspension from membership of the world organization’s top human rights body. The UN General Assembly is due to debate that matter early this week.
AP contributed to this report.
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