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TEXT-Highlights from Obama statement on Libya action

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Sat, 19 Mar 2011 21:25 GMT
Author: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Click For Restrictions.
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BRASILIA, March 19 (Reuters) - The following are excerpts of U.S. President's Barack Obama's statement to reporters traveling with him in Brazil on the start of U.S. military action in Libya:

"Today I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.

"In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people.

"That coalition met in Paris today to send a unified message and it brings together many of our European and Arab partners.

"This is not an outcome that the United States or any of our partners sought. Even yesterday, the international community offered Muammar Gaddafi the opportunity to pursue an immediate ceasefire, one that stopped the violence against civilians and the advances of Gaddafi's forces.

"But despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity. His attacks on his own people have continued. His forces have been on the move and the danger faced by the people of Libya has grown.

"I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it. I want the American people to know the use of force is not our first choice and it is not a choice that I make lightly.

"We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy and his forces step up their assaults ... where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.

"So we must be clear, actions have consequences and the writ of the international community must be enforced. That is the cause of this coalition.

"As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front-end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners. And as I said yesterday, we will not -- I repeat -- we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.

"I'm also proud that we are acting as part of a coalition that includes close allies and partners who are prepared to meet their responsibility to protect the people of Libya and uphold the mandate of the international community.

"Make no mistake. Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people and we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world." (Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Alister Bull; Editing by Bill Trott)

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