March 14th, 2011
06:43 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama Monday reaffirmed his call for Libya's embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down. After a meeting in the Oval office with Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen Obama told reporters Gadhafi , "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."
The president said the United States, working with NATO and the United Nations, would be looking at "a wide range of options that continue to tighten the noose around Gadhafi and apply additional pressure." The president noted that Denmark and Prime Minister Rasmussen in particular had been a leader in Europe's efforts to apply tough sanctions against the Libyan leader's regime. Obama said the United States continues to monitor and offer assistance to Japan as that country recovers from a devastating earthquake. The president called the situation in Japan an "international tragedy" and again said he is "heartbroken" by the images of destruction. He said he remains in close contact with Japan's prime minister and the United States is providing any help and assistance necessary until the crisis in Japan is stabilized.
Denmark's prime minister also discussed the war in Afghanistan with the president. Denmark has 700 troops serving there and Obama acknowledged their "sacrifices" noting that Danish soldiers are fighting "in some of the toughest areas. As the date for the with-drawl of U.S. military troops in Afghanistan nears, the president praised the prime minister's efforts, "[he] has been able to build a consensus within Denmark about how that transition would proceed that I think is a model for all our allies and participants in Afghanistan."
Prime Minister Rasmussen said he just returned from visiting troops in Afghanistan. He said local officials told him problems remained such as lack of governance, lack of security and what he called the "negative impact from narcotics."