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Before the military intervention Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Paris with Sarkozy and leaders of some 20 other countries, including Arab nations, to determine how to enforce the United Nation's-backed call for a ceasefire if Gadhafi's forces did not stand down.
In Brazil, President Obama said he had "authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya. That action has now begun." He said it was not his "first choice and not a choice I make lightly." And the president reiterated that America would not deploy grounds troops in Libya.
Gadhafi was given a chance to avoid the intervention and now must face the consequences, Obama told reporters. "Despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity... His attacks on his own people have continued." The coalition partners, Obama said, are "answering the calls of a threatened people."
Earlier, Obama said the "consensus" among the allied nations was strong and clear. "The people of Libya must be protected," he said. "And in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians, our coalition is prepared to act, and act with urgency."
On Friday, Obama warned Gadhafi to stop attacking Libyan citizens or face the consequences outlined in a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing "all necessary measures," including a no-fly zone, to protect civilians.
Even before the French warplanes took to the skies above Libya, aircraft from Britain and the United Arab Emirates were poised to begin operations in the event Gadhafi ignored demands to pull back him military. And U.S. ships in the Mediterranean were already preparing to take action to help establish a no-fly zone.
"All attacks against civilians must stop," Obama said Friday. Gadhafi "must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi," the rebel stronghold in the eastern part of the country, pull back his forces from three other cities, establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas, and allow humanitarian assistance to reach Libyan citizens."
Gadhafi has sent two letters -- one to Obama and another to U.N., British and French leaders -- in an apparent attempt to ward off military intervention, the Times said, citing citing a Libyan deputy foreign minister. In a conciliatory vein to Obama, he wrote that Libya was battling al-Qaeda and asked, "how would you behave?" Even if Libya and the U.S. went to war against each other, he said "you will always remain my son, and I have love for you."
But Gadhafi was combative in his missive to the other international leaders, threatening "you will regret it if you take a step to intervene in our internal affairs." The letters were read aloud to journalists by the minister, Khaled Kaim.
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