Clinton: US sending aid teams to Libya's borders

AP News
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Posted: Feb 28, 2011 1:40 PM
Clinton: US sending aid teams to Libya's borders

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. is sending assistance teams to Libya's borders with Egypt and Tunisia. The teams will help desperate refugees trying to flee a potential civil war.

Clinton says the U.S. has pledged $10 million to help refugees.

Speaking after a day of discussions with European allies in Switzerland, Clinton says the U.S. is leaving all its options on the table to deal with Libya.

She would not discuss military options in detail. But she says that so long as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi attacks his people the U.S. will consider a range of responses.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton implored the world on Monday to hold Moammar Gadhafi's regime to account for gross atrocities that include reports of executing soldiers for refusing to turn their guns on their fellow citizens.

Clinton made the plea for the international community to speak with a single voice at Monday's session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. She said that Gadhafi must leave power "now, without further violence or delay." She addressed the body after seeing America's allies in Europe set sanctions on the Libyan government, and pledge even harder actions to come.

"We have seen Colonel Gadhafi's security forces open fire on peaceful protesters," Clinton. "They have used heavy weapons on unarmed civilians. Mercenaries and thugs have been turned loose to attack demonstrators."

The result of these human rights abuses, Clinton said, was that "they have lost the legitimacy to govern."

Her assessment to the 47-nation body came amid a series of meetings Clinton held with foreign policy chiefs from Russia, top European powers and Australia. As the leaders shuffled in and out of conferences in a form of speed diplomacy, they urged concerted efforts to press Gadhafi to halt the violence that has wracked his country and resign after 42 years in control of Libya.

The European Union issued travel bans and an asset freeze against senior Libyan officials, and an arms embargo on the country. Germany went further, proposing a 60-day economic embargo to prevent Gadhafi's regime from using oil and other revenues to repress his people.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle's call essentially amounted to an economic embargo and was perhaps the toughest proposal yet aimed at Gadhafi. He spoke as doubts emerged about the feasibility of another plan being mulled by international leaders, a no-fly zone that would prevent him from launching aerial attacks.

"We must do everything so this murder ends," Westerwelle told reporters. "We must do everything to ensure that no money is going into the hands of the Libyan dictator's family, that they don't have any opportunity to hire new foreign soldiers to repress their people with."

Westerwelle said he was only speaking for Germany, but insisted that his call had found some support from other countries. Italy's foreign minister said his country was looking to find a new source for the oil supplies that had been coming from Libya.

Clinton said the U.S. was considering further sanctions.

"Nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyan citizens," she said, without explicitly mentioning the threat of military action.

But the proposal for a possible no-fly zone over the country appeared to divide nations.

Russia's foreign minister said he had no talks with Clinton about the proposal. "Absolutely not," Sergey Lavrov said as he emerged from his meeting with Clinton. "It was not mentioned by anyone."

And in Paris, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said a no-fly zone needed U.N. support "which is far from being obtained today." He also questioned whether NATO should get involved in a civil war in a North African country.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy, whose bases would be the most logical place from which to monitor the no-fly zone, said the issue was under discussion but said the logistics would be difficult.

"We should discuss all the consequences," Frattini said after meeting Clinton. He said it would have to be clear what country was "in position to put military bases at their disposal, and who is in position to participate actively with military planes ready to enforce the decision of a no-fly zone."

While Western officials privately raised doubts about how countries could enforce such an order, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd proceeded straight from his meeting with Clinton to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and announced his country's support for moves to establish a no-fly zone at the Security Council.

"Guernica is known throughout the world for the bombing of the civilian population," Rudd told The Associated Press, referring to the massacre during the Spanish Civil War. "We have seen evidence of that in Libya. Let us not simply stand idly by while similar atrocities are committed again."

Key Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, also have called for the no-fly zone, though the administration's position wasn't clear.