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Obama warns Qadhafi to comply with UN, halt advance

March 18, 2011

obama, qadhafi, libya
US President Barack Obama pauses while making a statement on Libya from the East Room of the White House on March 18, 2011 in Washington, DC. President Obama announced that the United States and other world powers will stand with Libyans who are against Col. Muammar Qadhafi but will not commit ground forces. - Photo by AFP.

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama warned Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi on Friday to comply with UN demands for a cease-fire or else face consequences that include military action.

He said Qadhafi must stop advances on the rebel capital of Benghazi.

“All attacks against all civilians must stop,” Obama said in a White House speech.

Obama, offering his first justification to Americans for getting the US military involved in Libya, said the goal is to protect Libyan citizens from what he called Qadhafi's campaign of repression against his people. He also said the US role would be limited.

“The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya and we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in Libya,” he said.

Obama said Qadhafi has been given ample warning to stop attacking his own people but has ignored international demands.

Left unchecked, he said, there is every reason to believe Qadhafi would commit atrocities and many thousands could die.

“The United States did not seek this outcome. Our decisions have been driven by Qadhafi's refusal to respect the rights of his people and the potential for mass murder of innocent civilians,” he said.

Obama said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would travel to Paris on Saturday to attend an international meeting on the Libyan crisis to discuss the next steps following approval on Thursday of a UN Security Council resolution on Libya.