'It is US policy that Gaddafi needs to go'
United States President Barack Obama has asserted that it is America's policy that the Libyan leader, Muammar Al Gaddafi must go and his Administration has multiple tolls to ensure that this goal is achieved.
"It is US policy that Gaddafi needs to go. We have got a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy. We were very rapid in initiating unilateral sanctions and then helping to mobilise international sanctions against the Gaddafi regime," the US President said during a joint news conference with his Chilean counterpart Sebastian Pinera in Santiago, Chile.
Obama said the US military action is in support of an international mandate from the Security Council that specifically focuses on the humanitarian threat posed by Colonel Gaddafi to his people.
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Image: President Barack Obama works on his statement concerning the situation in Libya with, from left, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes
Photographs: Pete Souza/White House Photo
'We have to stop any potential atrocities inside Libya'
"Not only was he carrying out murders of civilians, but he threatened more; he said very specifically: We will show no mercy to people who live in Benghazi," he said.
"In the face of that, the international community rallied and said, we have to stop any potential atrocities inside Libya, and provided a broad mandate to accomplish that specific task. As part of that international coalition, I authorised the US military to work with our international partners to fulfill that mandate," Obama said.
The US froze assets that Gaddafi might have used to further empower himself and purchase weapons or hire mercenaries that might be directed against the Libyan people, he said.
Image: President Barack Obama is briefed on the situation in Libya during a secure conference call with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, right, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, left, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham, and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough
Photographs: Pete Souza/White House Photos
'We are going to make sure that we stick to the UN mandate'
"So there are a whole range of policies that we are putting in place that has created one of the most powerful international consensuses around the isolation of Gaddafi, and we will continue to pursue those," he added.
However, America's military action is in support of the UN Security Resolution 1973.
That specifically talks about humanitarian efforts.
"We are going to make sure that we stick to that mandate," he said.
"With respect to initiating this action while I was abroad, keep in mind that we were working on very short time frames. We had done all the work, and it was just a matter of seeing how Gaddafi would react to the warning that I issued on Friday," the US President Obama said.
Image: A demonstrator holds a poster with the picture of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi is front of riot policemen during a protest against the visit by US President Barack Obama, in Santiago
Photographs: Victor Ruiz Caballero/Reuters
'We decided to move forward after consulting our allies'
"After consultation with our allies, we decided to move forward. And it was a matter of me directing Secretary of Defence (Robert) Gates and Admiral (Mike) Mullen that the plan that had been developed in great detail extensively prior to my departure was put into place," he added.
Obama has told the Congressional leadership that these strikes would be limited in their nature, duration and scope.
"Their purpose is to support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. These limited US actions will set the stage for further action by other coalition partners," Obama said in a letter to Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Senate President Pro Tempore Daniel Inouye.
Image: Seen through night-vision lenses aboard amphibious transport dock USS Ponce, the guided missile destroyer USS Barry fires Tomahawk cruise missiles in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn
Photographs: US Navy Photo
'US military efforts are discrete'
UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorised member states to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya, including the establishment and enforcement of a "no-fly zone" in the airspace of Libya.
"United States military efforts are discrete and focused on employing unique US military capabilities to set the conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorised by the UN Security Council Resolution," he said.
"Gaddafi's illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighbouring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region," he said.
Image: Adm Samuel J Locklear, III, commander, Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn, speaks with an aircrew team from the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle
Photographs: US Navy Photo
US has not deployed ground forces into Libya
Obama told lawmakers that the US has not deployed ground forces into Libya and that the US forces are conducting a limited and well-defined mission in support of international efforts to protect civilians and prevent a humanitarian disaster.
"Accordingly, US forces have targetted the Gaddafi regime's air defense systems, command and control structures, and other capabilities of Gaddafi's armed forces used to attack civilians and civilian populated areas," he said.
"We will seek a rapid, but responsible, transition of operations to coalition, regional, or international organizations that are postured to continue activities as may be necessary to realise the objectives of UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973," Obama said.
Image: A French navy AS365 F Dauphin rescue helicopter from French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle test lands aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney. Charles de Gaulle is operating in the Mediterranean Sea supporting the coalition led operations in response to the crisis in Libya