World community intensifies efforts to isolate Gaddafi regime

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Rania

Cairo, Feb 26 (PTI) As a bellicose Muammar Gaddafi clungto power in Libya vowing to crush protesters demanding hisouster, the world community stepped up efforts today toisolate his regime, with the US closing its embassy in Tripoliand slapping unilateral sanctions freezing his assets.

68-year-old Gaddafi, whose forces have launched a bloodycrackdown against protesters, addressed a crowd of hissupporters in Tripoli''s Green Square.

"We can defeat any aggression if necessary and arm thepeople," he said yesterday, in footage aired on Libyan stateTV.

"I am in the middle of the people.. we will fight ... wewill defeat them if they want .. we will defeat any foreignaggression," said Gaddafi, who is facing the unprecedentedtwo-week revolt against his 41-year rule.

His address came as the violence flared up in his bastionTripoli, with security forces loyal to Gaddafi firingindiscriminately on thousands of demonstrators after theFriday prayers yesterday.

In his most aggressive action against Libya since theviolence began, US President Barack Obama issued an executiveorder announcing unilateral sanctions on the country freezingthe assets in America of Gaddafi, his family and loyalists.

"By any measure, Muammar el-Gaddafi''s government hasviolated international norms and common decency and must beheld accountable," Obama said in a statement after he issuedthe executive order late last night.

"These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafigovernment, while protecting the assets that belong to thepeople of Libya," he said.

The executive order blocks the property and interests inproperty of a number of individuals, including the familymembers of the Libyan leader, officials of the LibyanGovernment and those responsible for human rights violationsin that country.

The US also suspended its military ties with Libya andclosed down its embassy in Tripoli.

"The State Department has suspended embassy operations inLibya and will temporarily withdraw all embassy employees fromTripoli," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney toldreporters.

The US action came just minutes after a charter flightleft Tripoli carrying the last Americans who wanted to leaveLibya.

"It''s clear that Colonel Gaddafi has lost the confidenceof his people," Carney said. (More) PTI KIM

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