WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Denmark’s prime minister said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has lost the right to lead and should leave the country, but said little about how to make it happen.
“He should be history,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen.
They spoke on a day that Gaddafi’s jets bombed Libyan rebels on in a counteroffensive that has pushed them back 100 miles in a week, far outpacing diplomatic efforts to impose a no-fly zone to help the rebels.
Diplomats are debating whether to launch a no-fly zone over Libya, an idea backed by France but opposed by Turkey.
“We both share the view that Mr. Gaddafi has lost legitimacy and he needs to leave, and that we as an international community have to speak firmly against any violence that’s directed at civilians,” Obama said in an Oval Office picture-taking session with Rasmussen.
Obama has so far rebuffed pressure by some U.S. lawmakers to back a no-fly zone and said it was important to look at a wide range of options to apply greater pressure on Gaddafi.
He said this will require close coordination with NATO allies as well as the United Nations, “to look at every single option that’s available to us in bringing about a better outcome for the Libyan people.”
Rasmussen condemned “the violent repression” of the Libyan people and also stressed the need to look at all options.
U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican, and Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent, increased pressure on the administration to impose a no-fly zone by introducing a resolution in the U.S. Senate calling for one. The resolution is largely symbolic and is unlikely to come up for a vote.
“It remains the case that a no-fly zone would take one of (Gaddafi‘s) most lethal tools off the table, and thereby boost the confidence of Libya’s opposition,” McCain said. “It is Libyans themselves who want to do the fighting against (Gaddafi), but they want it to be a fair fight. So should we.”
Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Todd Eastham