Clinton says U.S. will participate in Libya operation

PARIS, March 19 Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:53pm EDT

PARIS, March 19 (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Paris on Saturday that the United States would bring its "unique capabilities" to bear to help its European and Canadian allies in enforcing a U.N. resolution on Libya.

Clinton, speaking as French warplanes began operations to stop Muammar Gaddafi's attacks, said the United States would support the intervention in Libya. Asked if the aim was to overthrow Gaddafi, she did not answer the question directly but said the aim of Western powers was to protect civilians.

"If the international community is to have credibility ... then action must take place," Clinton told a news conference.

She added that Washington had yet to decide whether to follow France in formally recognising the rebel government in Benghazi.

(Reporting by Andrew Quinn; Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)