March 19th, 2011
03:42 PM ET

Obama: Coalition ready to 'act with urgency' against Gadhafi

BRASILIA, Brazil (CNN) - President Obama is getting up-to-the-minute briefings on the start of military action in Libya during his tour of Latin America. In Brazil on Saturday he declared that an international coalition is ready "to act and act with urgency" to stop Moammar Gadhafi from continuing to attack civilians.

"The people of Libya must be protected," said Obama. "And in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians, our coalition is prepared to act, and act with urgency."

Obama spoke at an event here with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and said he would be briefing her on "the steps that we are taking" with other nations like the United Kingdom and France to put ever more pressure on Gadhafi.

An initial resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council imposing sanctions against Libya did not stop Gadhafi from attacking his own people. Therefore the council passed a second resolution on Thursday night authorizing open-ended military action by member nations, including a no-fly zone over the skies of Libya.

While Brazil abstained on the vote because of its concerns that the resolution was too broad, a coalition of the U.S. and other key allies passed the resolution by a 10-0 margin, leading to French planes firing on Libyan military vehicles on Saturday.

Obama suggested there is more military action to come, declaring that "our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear" coming out of the U.N. debate.

Eager to show the U.S. is not leading the military action in an Arab country after the controversies over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama stressed that the broader "international community demanded an immediate cease-fire in Libya, including an end to all attacks against civilians."

Obama also noted that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Europe and "joined an international coalition of our European and Arab partners in Paris to discuss how we will enforce U.S. Security Council Resolution 1973."

At a news conference of her own in Paris, Clinton also repeatedly used the phrases "international community" and "international coalition" to hammer home the Obama administration's message that they're not taking unilateral action against Gadhafi.

The White House is sensitive to any suggestion that Obama should have delayed his trip to Latin America during the crisis in Libya, and is making clear that the president is getting frequent briefings here to stay on top of the details of the military action.

Senior administration officials said that Clinton briefed Obama by phone about her conversations in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Obama was also briefed this morning at his Brasilia hotel by National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who is one of many senior aides who are traveling with the president.

Topics: Libya • NATO • President Obama • The News

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