UN to meet on further options against Libya

The U.N. Security Council will meet Friday to consider actions against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime that could include sanctions aimed at deterring his violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

France's U.N. Mission said late Thursday that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend the meeting at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) Friday.

Diplomats said Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told the council in closed consultations earlier Thursday it was imperative that members look at possible next steps because Gadhafi has failed to heed the council's demand to end the violence.

The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private, said there was agreement among the 15 council nations to discuss further options. No date has been set, but diplomats said closed-door consultations are likely to take place Friday or over the weekend.

Although no specific actions have been proposed, diplomats said no options are being ruled out.

Diplomats said possible sanctions likely to be put on the table include travel bans and asset freezes against Gadhafi and top officials in his government, an arms embargo against the government, and imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.

China and Russia, traditionally reluctant to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, supported the strong press statement the council issued Tuesday which condemned and deplored "the repression against peaceful demonstrators," demanded an "immediate end to the violence," and called for steps "to address the legitimate demands of the population."

Whether China and Russia will go along with sanctions — which both countries also generally oppose — remains to be seen.

Asked whether Beijing would agree to further action, China's political counselor Yang Tao told reporters: "We'll consider it."

President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned the violence in Libya in sharp terms and directed his administration to prepare a full range of options.

When U.S. deputy ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo was asked after Thursday's meeting whether there was council support for follow-up action, she replied: "Everybody's very concerned about the situation."

Germany's U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig, whose country is serving a two-year term on the council, gave strong backing to council measures.

"We made clear that the violence against civilians and the question of oppression against people, demonstrators, just has to stop," Wittig told reporters after the closed consultations.

"Apparently the regime in Tripoli did not heed the call of the Security Council that we made on Tuesday so we've really got to think about further action," he said. "We will have consultations about the next step. It's an ongoing process, but we certainly want the council ... to take action."