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U.S. Seeks Consensus On Libya At U.N.

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U.S. Seeks Consensus On Libya At U.N.


U.S. Seeks Consensus On Libya At U.N.

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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And now to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.

Thanks for joining us.

Ambassador SUSAN RICE (United Nations): Good to be with you, Melissa.

BLOCK: I want to ask you first on the question of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. Could you get that vote through the Security Council? Russia, which has veto power, has been digging in its heels. We heard the foreign minister of Russia saying the Libyans have to solve their problems by themselves.

Amb. RICE: Well, Melissa, we - it's too soon to know the answer to that question. We and other colleagues on the Security Council are in the early stages of consulting about what additional measures the council might consider authorizing. And, frankly, Russia is not the only country that has expressed some concerns about the viability and desirability of a no-fly zone.

BLOCK: Would you include China in that group as well?

Amb. RICE: Well, I think China may well be one, but it's not just permanent members. There are a number of others who are wondering whether a no-fly zone is actually the most effective way to stop the violence.

BLOCK: We've also seen the Arab League rejecting any foreign military intervention in Libya. How concerned are you that Western military action in another Muslim country, apart from Iraq and Afghanistan, would be inflammatory, might trigger a backlash throughout the Muslim world?

Amb. RICE: Well, these are among the issues that that we are considering as we consult with partners in NATO. Our aim, and I think the international community is substantially united in this respect, is to halt the violence and to make it very clear that Gadhafi has to step down, and that those around him who continue to hang on with him as he clings to power are going to be held accountable for the crimes that they are committing.

BLOCK: But on that question of perceptions in the Muslim world, is that a concern of yours and of the U.S.? I mean, Moammar Gadhafi has been saying that the Libyan uprising is all a Western plot. Is there a risk that Western military action would feed into that narrative?

Amb. RICE: Well, Gadhafi has pointed to everything but the truth in trying to explain to himself and try to mislead his people about what's going on. One of the things that has been so gratifying about the international response in this instance is that it has been Arab and African countries - the Arab League, the African Union - that led the charge for the sanctions we imposed in the Security Council, led the charge to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council.

And both the African Union and the Arab League are continuing to consult internally about the no-fly zone and other potential options to end the violence. They haven't taken anything off the table. But, obviously, from the U.S. point of view to the greatest extent possible, we are not only consulting with partners around the world, but we would want the strongest possible international consensus for potential action.

BLOCK: Ambassador Rice, you were quite forceful before you joined the Obama administration in calling for the U.S. to take military action, launch military strikes to stop atrocities in Darfur, Sudan. You said at the time that working through the International Criminal Court was not enough. Why is Libya different?

Amb. RICE: Well, Libya is a situation where we have a great deal of concern, and I wouldn't say necessarily that it's different. But in Darfur, we had a genocide. And that genocide claimed at least 250,000 human beings. Thankfully, we have not seen violence nearly on that scale in Libya, but we are very mindful of the gravity and the urgency of the situation in Libya.

That's why the president led efforts in the international community to get these sanctions imposed, to refer this unanimously to the International Criminal Court, and why we are actively considering options, like a no-fly zone, like other enforcement actions, that, frankly, were never seriously considered by the international community in the case of Darfur.

BLOCK: Ambassador Susan Rice, thank you very much.

Amb. RICE: Thank you.

BLOCK: I've been talking with Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

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