Leave Libya as soon as possible; Clinton tells Gaddafi

Lalit K JhaWashington, Feb 28 (PTI) In a tough message hoursafter the UN slapped "biting" sanctions on the Libyan regime,US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told a bellicoseMuammar Gaddafi to leave the country and end his regime assoon as possible.

"We think he must go as soon as possible withoutfurther bloodshed and violence," Clinton told reporters as sheheaded towards Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights Councilmeeting today.

"We want him to leave and we want him to end hisregime and call off the mercenaries and those troops thatremain loyal to him. How he manages that is obviously up tohim and to his family," Clinton said.

"We have consistently in many conversations over thelast week sent messages, and along with partners in the regionand beyond have made it clear we expect him to leave. Butwe''re not involved in any kind of negotiation with him overthat," she said in response to a question.

Clinton said what will follow Gaddafi is just at thebeginning. Observers have said that about 2,000 or more peoplehave been killed across Libya in the past few days ofviolence.

"First we have to see the end of his regime with nofurther violence and bloodshed, which is a big challenge infront of all of us," she noted.

"But we''ve been reaching out to many different Libyanswho are attempting to organize in the east and as therevolution moves westward there as well. I think it''s way toosoon to tell how this is going to play out, but we''re going tobe ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance thatanyone wishes to have from the United States," she said.

In Geneva, Clinton said, she would be meeting withmany of her counterparts from Europe and beyond to discussways that they can better coordinate and organize in meetingthe expectations laid down by the Security Council andthinking through how they can respond to the needs of theLibyan people not only in a humanitarian way but in apolitical and civil response as they try to sort through howthey''re going to organize themselves post-Gaddafi.

Referring to the UN Security Council resolution thatslapped sanctions on the Libyan regime, Clinton said it makesclear there will be accountability for crimes against humanityand war crimes and other atrocities that are being perpetratedagainst the Libyan people, including a referral to theInternational Criminal Court.

"I want to underscore this unanimous message from theSecurity Council to those who are around Gaddafi that you willbe held accountable for the actions that are being taken andhave been taken against your own people," she said.

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