5:00 p.m. CNN reports that Libya's deputy foreign minister called for observers from China, Malta, Turkey and Germany "to come to Libya as soon as possible." To comply with the ceasefire, Libyan government forces will not enter Benghazi, he added, according to Reuters.
4:54 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the UN resolution is an "important step" for the international community to take action. "I support the President’s decision to work with our allies to enforce a no-fly zone and take other actions to protect Libyan civilians. Today the President presented Qaddafi with a clear choice and outlined the very serious consequences of ignoring the demands of the people of Libya and the international community," he said in a statement.
“Together with our allies, we should work to ensure that Qaddafi’s transition out of power is swift, and that the people of Libya do not suffer any more than they already have," he said.
4:49 p.m. President Obama’s speech about the coming no-fly zone over Libya raised more new questions than it answered. National Journal's Yochi J. Dreazen outlines four important questions hanging over the coming Western-led military operations in the skies above Libya. Read it here.
4:48 p.m. Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said his country is evaluating a Libyan request to monitor the ceasefire that Libya's government announced earlier today, Al Jazeera reports.
4:11 p.m. According to a statement from the French government that echoes Obama's comments from earlier in the day (2:35), France, Britain, the U.S. and Arab countries have told Qaddafi to stop his attacks "immediately" or face military intervention.
"A ceasefire must be put in place immediately, that is that all attacks against civilians must come to an end," the statement said. Qaddafi must "end his troops' advance on Benghazi and withdraw from Ajdabiyah, Misurata and Az Zawiyah and re-establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas... that is not negotiable." Otherwise, the UN resolution will be enforced by military means, the statement continued.
3:49 p.m. Al Jazeera reports that pro-Qaddafi forces are advancing quickly towards Benghazi. Its correspondent in Benghazi reported that the loyalist forces are clashing with rebels about 30 miles away from the city.
3:00 p.m. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., issued a statement:
“President Obama’s stern ultimatum to Qaddafi is the right message. There must be a full cessation of hostilities immediately. The cease-fire announcement just hours after the UN Security Council made clear our refusal to stand by and watch a massacre, shows that when the world speaks with one voice, it can make a difference.
“But Qaddafi has proven repeatedly that he will do and say anything to hold onto power. We need to see results and not just rhetoric. In other words, President Reagan’s old maxim demands revision: ‘don’t trust -- verify.’"
Kerry said the U.S. must be prepared to take "robust action" with NATO and the Arab League to enforce the UN resolution. He first called for a no-fly zone over Libya on March 2.
2:35 p.m. President Obama said that Qaddafi was given "ample warning" that he needed to stop his campaign of repression but instead "launched a military campaign against his own people." Obama condemned Qaddafi's remark yesterday that he would show "no mercy and no pity" for the people of the rebel-held city of Benghazi.
"Here’s why this matters to us," Obama said. "Left unchecked we have every reason to believe Qaddafi would commit atrocities against his own people. Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered, the democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. The words of the international community would be rendered hollow."
Qaddafi has a choice, Obama said. "The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met." The U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agreed that a ceasefire must be implemented immediately.
"That means all attacks against civilians must stop," Obama said, adding that Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi and pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misurata and other cities, while allowing humanitarian assistance to reach the people of Libya.
"Let me be clear: these terms are not negotiable," he continued. "If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences. And the resolution will be enforced through military action." The United States is prepared to act as part of an international coalition in this effort, Obama said, noting that "American leadership is essential but that does not mean acting alone. It means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together."
Obama did specify that the U.S. is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya, and will not use force "to go beyond a well-defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in Libya."
Obama said he directed Defense Secretary Robert Gates to begin planning and that Clinton will travel to France tomorrow for meetings with allies.
1:55 p.m. President Obama is due to speak in 5 minutes on Libya. Watch it here.
1:51 p.m. Malta will not allow UN forces to use its bases to enforce a no-fly zone, as the country is politically neutral by constitution, AFP reports. Al Jazeera adds that Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said it will, however, allow military aircraft from other countries to use its airspace.
1:33 p.m. Libya's former deputy ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, tells Al Jazeera the "ceasefire" is not in effect but instead "one of the tricks of Colonel Qaddafi."
"We are sure that he is still shelling the city of Misurata and also some other cities. And I think he is just gaining time, because now he saw that the international community is ready to attack his forces, and he is trying to show that he is flexible and he will stop killing the innocent people," he said.
1:11 p.m. France does not want NATO involved in UN-sanctioned military action in Libya. French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero tells AFP: "We do not think it would be the right signal to send that NATO, as such, intervenes in an Arab nation. Allies have not taken a political position concerning NATO's involvement."
12:59 p.m. The White House provided a list of lawmakers who are participating in the meeting with Obama (see 11:42). They are:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.; Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich.; Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md.; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.; Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif.; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif.
12:56 p.m. BBC reports that the African Union is sending a delegation of five heads of state-- including Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni-- to Tripoli to talk to Qaddafi, a mission that was planned before the UN resolution.
12:36 p.m. A member of the Libyan opposition National Council in Misurata, Mohamed Ali, tells Al Jazeera that there has been "absolutely indiscriminate shelling" there:
"There is no ceasefire in Misurata. Shells are landing all over the city right now, as we speak. I hope you can hear them in the background, I'll move closer to the window so you can hear them. The murderous dictator has attacked the city this morning... And they were shooting their way into the centre of the city, which they haven't managed."
12:27 p.m. A Libyan government spokesman tells the BBC that not only has the ceasefire been in effect, but that Libya has asked Turkish and Maltese authorities to help implement and supervise it. The spokesman denied that pro-Qaddafi forces continue to strike in Misurata or anywhere else, despite reports from multiple news organizations to the contrary.
11:57 a.m. Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, said he asked parliament to authorize the Spanish military to help enforce the no-fly zone and called the UN resolution a "truly historic step," according to the BBC. See 8:23 for more information on Spain's participation.
11:42 a.m. President Obama will consult with a "bipartisan group of Congressional leaders" on Libya at 12:30 p.m. in the Situation Room. He will then deliver a statement on the situation in Libya at 2 p.m.
11:36 a.m. Germany abstained from voting on last night's UNSC resolution. Today, BBC reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will not take part in military intervention.
Merkel added: "We unreservedly share the aims of this resolution. Our abstention should not be confused with neutrality."
11:34 a.m. Drawn toward an important inflection point in his presidency this week, President Obama revealed none of the lead-with-the-chin swagger of his predecessor. Playing to type, he instead adopted the mien of the reluctant warrior, National Journal's James Kitfield writes.
11:24 a.m. Italy's foreign minister, Franco Frattini, said the country will offer its military bases to those operating the no-fly zone over Libya and that Italy will take "an active role" in any operations against Qaddafi, according to the BBC. Italywill also close its embassy in Tripoli.
After Frattini's remarks, Italy's defense minister, Ignazio La Russa, said Italy will only take part in a military coalition against Libya if parliament votes in favor, BBC reports.
11:20 a.m. According to a new Fox News poll released today, 43 percent of those polled said they approved of how the Obama administration is dealing with the situation in Libya. Another 35 percent said they disapproved, with 21 percent saying they don't know.
When asked if they favored or opposed the U.S. military "getting involved" with the situation in Libya, 65 percent said they opposed U.S. military action with 25 percent saying they favored it. Only 9 percent said they didn't know.
11:01 a.m. The Libyan Youth Movement tweets, "Very large explosions heard and continuing west of Tripoli."
10:59 a.m. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said UN action is “only… an important step.” In planning a course of action, Clinton stressed that it is “important that we take this one step at a time."
The first and most urgent need is for Qaddafi to stop the violence, she said. “We have to see a very clear set of decisions that are operationalized on the ground by Qaddafi’s forces to move physically a significant distance away from the East, where they have been pursuing their campaign against the opposition. There will have to be an accounting of what has already occurred… there are many stories of…massacres, abductions… Until we can have a better idea of what actually happened, it’s hard to know what the next steps will be.”
Clinton said she’d seen press reports that the Libyan government had announced a ceasefire but said the U.S. is not going to be “responsive or impressed by words” but needs to see clear results “on the ground and that is not yet at all clear.” See more on Clinton's comments here.
10:56 a.m. The Libyan Youth Movement tweets, "[Qaddafi] ceasefire nonexistent... we never trusted him and we never will."
10:53 a.m. Clinton calls for Qaddafi to stop the violence, again.
10:51 a.m. Clinton: "Let's take this one step at a time."
10:42 a.m. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is speaking about the crisis now.
10:25 a.m. See NJ correspondent James Kitfield's report on Obama's response to the ongoing crisis -- "The Reluctant Warrior" -- here.
10:15 a.m. You can see the complete text of United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, authorizing military action to protect Libya's civilians from the forces of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, here.
10:09 a.m. Gen. David Petraeus said no U.S. military assets from Afghanistan are being sent, or will be sent, to Libya.
9:57 a.m. Former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweets, "Qaddafi: 'It's over. The issue has been decided.' True, since the international community is now committed to action that will defeat him."
9:55 a.m. The Misurata resident says "Misurata is on fire, under fire."
9:54 a.m. A Misurata, Libya, resident tells CNN "there is NO ceasefire...[Qaddafi] has been lying to the world for 42 years."
9:43 a.m. The BBC is also live-blogging the crisis in Libya.
9:26 a.m. Foreign Policy reports that "several administration officials held a classified briefing for all senators on Thursday afternoon in the bowels of the Capitol building, leaving lawmakers convinced President Barack Obama is ready to attack Libya but wondering if it isn't too late to help the rebels there."
9:16 a.m. The New York Times reports that its four missing journalists, who were captured by forces loyal to Col. , will be released today.
9:14 a.m. Oil futures fell on news of the ceasefire announcement, Reuters reports.
9:07 a.m. Check out Marc Lynch's analysis of "the U.N.'s high-stakes gamble in Libya" on Foreign Policy's blog.
9:04 a.m. President Obama will likely address the nation on the crisis in Libya this afternoon, a senior administration official told reporters.
8:55 a.m. Former Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin said on CNN that “by calling an immediate ceasefire they’re meeting some of the terms of the resolution… The good news is the people of Benghazi have probably been saved as a result of this resolution… but now we’re in a situation where we’re going to have to have… verification… to see whether there really is a ceasefire.”
8:52 a.m. Libyan Foreign Minister Kussa said Libya will protect civilians and all foreigners in the country, CNN reports.
8:43 a.m. Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said his country is committed to accepting the U.N. Security Council resolution, calling an immediate ceasefire and the stopping of all military operations.
8:41 a.m. The United States has not sent any F-22s yet, according to the U.S. military.
8:33 a.m. The spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said there will be a joint statement from Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and other world leaders in the next few hours that will set out the moves to enforce the UN Security Council resolution, the BBC reports.
8:30 a.m. Libya shut down its air space in the face of anticipated air strikes by France and Britain, AFP reports.
8:23 a.m. Spain will allow NATO to use two of its military bases for the operation over Libya, according to AFP. Defense Minister Carme Chacon said Spain will also provide air and naval forces for use in air operations.
8:18 a.m. Gold futures gained early Friday on news that the U.N. approved of a no-fly zone over Libya, the Wall Street Journal reports. Gold for April delivery gained $8.90 to $1,413.10 an ounce in electronic trading on Globex.
8:16 a.m. Crude oil futures traded above $103 per barrel in Asia Friday on news that the U.N. backed the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya, the Wall Street Journal reports.
8:08 a.m. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain will send Typhoon and Tornado fighter jets to help enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, the AP reports. Britain is holding emergency meetings.
8:04 a.m. France is moving to start military operations against Libya “in a matter of hours” following U.N. Security Council authorization, Reuters reports.
"The French, who led the calls (for action), will of course be consistent with military intervention," French government spokesman Francois Baroin told a radio station Friday. "The strikes will take place soon."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has met with his defense minister, prime minister and armed forces chief; he is expected to seek support for a plan to host talks between the European Union, African Union and Arab League as early as tomorrow.
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