WASHINGTON – The United States is mulling a “full range of tools” including sanctions against Libya to stop a deadly crackdown on anti-regime protesters there, the State Department said Wednesday.
“We’re looking at a full range of tools and options that are available to us to achieve our goals of seeing an end of the violence in Libya and respect for the rights of the Libyan people,” spokesman Philip Crowley said.
“That certainly includes looking at sanctions that could be imposed either bilaterally or multilaterally,” Crowley told reporters.
“We believe it’s important to coordinate our effort with the international community, our European allies, the United Nations and organizations like the Arab League,” he said, adding that Washington “will be consulting broadly about these issues in the coming days.”
The White House said President Barack Obama will speak publicly about the situation in Libya later Wednesday on Thursday and expects to make some “announcements” on a US response to the crackdown.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Washington was discussing a wide range of options with its international partners, including the possibility of reimposing some sanctions on Libya’s government.
Europe already moved Wednesday to isolate Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi, readying sanctions that one diplomat said could include an assets freeze, a travel ban, an arms embargo and the legal pursuit of those involved in violent repression.
US lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle have made strong calls for the White House to slap sanctions on Libya, where the regime is believed to have killed hundreds in response to the sharpest challenge to Kadhafi’s rule since the strongman took power more than four decades ago.
US Senator John Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has urged Obama to re-impose US sanctions lifted under his predecessor George W. Bush when Tripoli agreed to dismantle its nuclear program.
House or Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also called for sanctions, including “freezing assets of the regime and imposing a ban on travel for all senior regime officials and their families,” she said.