London, March 30 (IANS/RIA Novosti) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged western powers to increase pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The UN Security Council’s Resolution 1973, adopted March 17, imposed a no-fly zone over Libya and measures to protect civilians from Gaddafi’s forces, but stopped short of authorising ground operations in the North African country.
“All of us must continue to increase the pressure on and deepen the isolation of the Gaddafi regime through other means as well,” said Clinton at the opening of international talks in London.
“This includes a unified front of political and diplomatic pressure that makes clear to Gaddafi that he must go.”
“The reason for being here [in London] is because the Libyan people cannot reach that future on their own,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said. “We are all here in one united purpose that is to help the Libyan people in their hour of need.”
“Today, I believe, should be about a new beginning for Libya – a future in which the people of Libya can determine their own destiny, free from violence and oppression,” he added.
The US goal is “squeezing Gaddafi’s resources and cutting off his money, his mercenaries, his arms, providing assistance to the rebels and the opposition,” saod US UN Ambassador Susan Rice Tuesday in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” show.
Moscow, which abstained from the resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, has urged coalition forces to act strictly within the UN mandate and answer directly to the Security Council.
On Saturday, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said the alliance, now leading the coalition, risked being caught up in a war in Libya similar to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and the US invasion of Iraq.
NATO began taking command from the US of all aerial operations to ensure the no-fly zone and an arms embargo in Libya Sunday. The transfer of authority will take up to three days and should be completed by Wednesday.
Libyan television has reported that dozens of civilians have been killed and wounded in the strikes and that many health and education facilities have been destroyed. Coalition commanders deny the claims.