GENEVA – World powers ramped up the pressure on Moamer Kadhafi’s regime on Monday, as the United States urged the international community to work together on further steps to end bloodshed in Libya.
“The people of Libya have made themselves clear: it is time for Kadhafi to go — now, without further violence or delay,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the UN Human Rights Council.
“We all need to work together on further steps to hold the Kadhafi government accountable, provide humanitarian assistance to those in need and support the Libyan people as they pursue a transition to democracy.”
“We will continue to explore all possible options for action — as we have said, nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyan citizens,” she added.
During an intense round of one-on-one meetings on the sidelines of a session of the rights council, Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton as well as counterparts from Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries, discussed steps to deal with what the US envoy called post-Kadhafi Libya.
Talks focused on “how we can keep the pressure on the Kadhafi regime without harming the Libyan people,” Clinton told journalists.
“We explored a number of potential actions, many of which are more in the European theatre than actions that we ourselves could take,” she added.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called for a 60-day freeze on all payments into Libya in order to deprive Kadhafi’s regime of the means to oppress the Libyan people.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the suggestion but insisted that there was a need to implement the measures such as sanctions agreed over the past few days first, claiming they could have a swift impact on violence.
“It is part of the intensifying pressure on the Kadhafi regime, it is time for him to go,” he told journalists.
Hague underlined a “remarkable” and “unprecedented” degree of unanimity in the international community.
“We have signalled that crimes will not be condoned, they won’t go unpunished and they won’t go forgotten which is a warning to anyone contemplating violations of human rights in Libya or any other country: they should stay their hand, there will be a day of reckoning.”
The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose sanctions and to refer Libya to the International Criminal Court over the regime’s bid to crush an uprising.
A day earlier, the 47-member UN rights council set up an investigation into suspected crimes against humanity.
In Brussels, the European Union agreed Monday to implement an assets freeze and travel ban on Kadhafi and 25 members of his family and inner circle, and ban any supply of arms, ammunition and related material in addition to the UN measures.
According to the New York Times, the United States and European allies are planning to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent the regime from an aerial bombardment of its population.
Clinton said it is “an option we are actively considering” while Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd voiced his support for the plan.
But Lavrov, when asked whether a no-fly zone over Libya had been discussed with Clinton, said: “Absolutely not. It was not mentioned by anyone.”
Ashton and Hague warned while such a step was being discussed it had to be drawn up with broad international support.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said that “the threat of violent reprisals against civilians still looms,” in Libya, after hundreds were feared killed in the brutal attempts to crush the revolt against Kadhafi.