US looking at sanctions on Libya

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Lalit K JhaWashington, Feb 25 (PTI) The Obama Administrationtoday appeared to be moving ahead with proposals to imposesanctions on the authoritarian Gaddafi regime of Libya whichhas been using lethal force against its own people resultingin hundreds of casualties.

A meeting in this regard was held at the White Housewhich among others was attended by Tom Malinowski of the HumanRights Watch.

It is believed that while the US Treasury Departmentis looking into the possibility of slapping unilateralsanctions on Libya, it would also support a European Unionresolution to be tabled by France, its current president, atthe UN Security Council later today.

The move to slap sanctions gained momentum after Obamaspoke with his key European allies over phone - FrenchPresident Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister DavidCameroon and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

In a statement, the White House said the leadersdiscussed the range of options that both the US and Europeancountries are preparing to hold the Libyan governmentaccountable for its actions, as well as planning forhumanitarian assistance.

"In line with the statement that was unanimouslyadopted by the Council on February 22, concrete measures arenow necessary, notably to permit immediate access tohumanitarian assistance and to sanction those responsible forthe violence against Libya''s civilian population," said astatement issued by the office of the French Presidentfollowing the telephonic conversation.

Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary JayCarney told reporters that the US is closely looking intosanctions.

"I don''t want to get into specifics. We''re workingvery closely with the international community, and we''rehoping and believe that the international community will speakwith one voice, as I think is often the case," he said.

"When the international community comes together andspeaks with one voice it has a powerful impact in terms ofpersuading a government like Libya''s to do the right thing, tostop the kind of violence it''s been perpetrating on its ownpeople," Carney said.

"We''re examining a lot of options -- sanctions are oneof them, but I don''t want to specify that one is going tohappen and one''s not going to happen. We''re working with ourpartners on that," he added.

Carney said there are no options that the US is takingoff the table.

The Libyan Interior Ministry has put the death toll inover a week of violence at 300, but Italian Foreign MinisterFranco Frattini has claimed that the crackdown on anti-regimeprotesters has killed as many as 1,000 people.

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