Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Friday the U.N. authorization of force against Libya is an important first step and that the U.S. and other nations will continue to consider action against Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi until he clearly demonstrates he has halted the violence against his people.
"The Libyan people have called for international assistance, and this resolution paves the way for this call to be answered,” Clinton said, speaking alongside Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore at the State Department.
Qaddafi’s refusal to step down has “left us with no other choice but to pursue this course of action,” Clinton said. "It is only that, an important step. We and our partners will continue to explore the most effective measures to end this crisis.”
Earlier, Qaddafi’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, declared an immediate ceasefire and a stop to all military operations, though witnesses say attacks continue in Misurata, Libya.
Clinton said she’d seen the press reports about a Libyan government ceasefire but said the U.S. is not going to be “responsive or impressed by words” and needs to see clear results “on the ground -- and that is not yet at all clear.”
“We will continue to work with our partners and the international community to press Qaddafi to leave and to support the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people,” she said.
The United Nations Security Council voted on Thursday night to “establish a ban on all flights in the airspace" above Libya and authorized members to take "all necessary measures" except an occupation force to protect civilians.
Clinton stressed that it is “important that we take this one step at a time.”
“We just passed this resolution last night, and… now we’re going to be working to operationalize it and we’re going to see what the next steps will be,” she said.
"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.”