US announces sanctions on Libya, EU mulls action

Friday, February 25, 2011

WASHINGTON - The US has announced it will impose sanctions against Libya, as part of measures designed to loosen Muammar Gaddafi’s grip on power, while the EU said it was mulling restrictive measures including travel bans and enforcement of a no-fly zone in the north African country.

As the US embassy in Libya suspended its operations due to security reasons, State Department officials stressed that diplomatic ties were not suspended and channels for discussion remained open.

“The flag is still flying. The embassy is not closed. Operations are suspended. Relations are not broken,” CNN quoted Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy as saying Friday.

He said all US official employees were withdrawn from the embassy Friday, and only Libyan employees were “still on the payroll” and still working there.

These remaining employees are not authorised to conduct any US government business, he added.

According to State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Janet Sanderson, Libya’s embassy in Washington was still “up and running”, and the department has not been informed of any change in the status of Libya’s ambassador to the US.

“We still continue to reach out to the Libyans where appropriate, both directly and through third parties,” Sanderson said.

Obama discussed the Libyan crisis Friday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The European Union (EU), meanwhile, is considering to impose restrictive measures including travel bans, assets freezes and enforcement of a no-fly zone on Libya over its violent crackdown on the country’s anti-government protests, the bloc’s foreign policy chief has said.

The EU would discuss possible sanctions with other international partners including the US, Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton said at a press conference Friday in Godollo, Hungary, where EU defence ministers gathered to discuss the situation in Libya.

“Whatever we decide to do needs to be effective, and needs to be effective within a very short time frame if we are to put immediate pressure to try and stop the violence in that country,” Xinhua quoted Ashton as saying.

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