Ambassador Rice: Good evening, the U.S. is very pleased with today’s vote and with the strong provisions of Resolution 1973. This resolution should send a strong message to Colonel Qadhafi and his regime that the violence must stop, the killing must stop, and the people of Libya must be protected and have the opportunity to express themselves freely.
This resolution was designed to do two important things: protect civilians as well as strengthen the pressure on the Qadhafi regime through a substantial tightening of sanctions. Provisions for enforcement of the arms embargo, a ban on flights in and out of Libya with, in particular, a focus on those that may be carrying mercenaries, the designation of additional individuals and core Libyan-owned government companies for asset freezes, and a range of other very important measures. Taken together, the elements of Resolution 1973 are powerful and they ought to be heeded by the Qadhafi regime. I’m happy to take a few questions.
Reporter: Your Secretary of State has met with a legion of the rebels in France, you have passed a resolution that protects Benghazi and the rest of the cities and villages and you have called the regime illegitimate and you have asked for him to step down. Isn’t it time that you recognize the government of the transitional council, like France, as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people? And I’d like to know how you got the Nigerians and South Africans to go back to the fault?
Ambassador Rice: We think that today’s resolution is a strong message that reemphasizes what was already in 1970. As many of our colleagues you heard today on the Council said, and as the United States has said repeatedly, Qadhafi has lost his legitimacy. There is no justification for his continued leadership now that he has perpetrated violence against his own people. We have had the opportunity, as you acknowledged, to meet with the opposition, and we are actively looking at what options might follow.
Reporter: How many troops, or how many assets, does the United States intend to throw into this battle and also, since the resolution calls on those who operate to consult the Secretary General to have a meeting with him in the next few hours.
Ambassador Rice: Well I’m not going to get into operational matters or matters pertaining to the application of the use of force. Obviously, we will comply with all the terms of the resolution.
Reporter: Madame Ambassador, do you consider this resolution an ultimatum for Mr. Qadhafi, and what’s the range of time that you can give for the Libyan regime?
Ambassador Rice: I think it should be noted that the first operative paragraph of the resolution calls for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the violence, and the second operative paragraph demands respect for the rights of the Libyan people and we are very serious about seeing those provisions respected.
Reporter: Countries that abstained repeatedly said that they felt that this resolution was going to exacerbate, rather than mitigate, conditions on the ground. What is your response to that?
Ambassador Rice: Well our response is that the Council today acted in response to a strong request by the League of Arab States. This resolution was supported by the African members of the Council, by Lebanon, by a strong majority of the Council who agreed that the situation had become so grave that the provisions of 1970 had been flouted so dramatically and that the people of Libya were under imminent threat and continued risk of violence and took the decision to act. So I think the result speaks for itself. I won’t characterize other countries’ positions, but I will reiterate that the United States is pleased with the outcome.
Reporter: Those who abstained also said that many questions weren’t answered, rules of engagement, limit of force, who would take part in this mission. Do you believe you have answered those questions? Who will take part? Can you give us some idea of what Arab countries and other countries might take part in?
Ambassador Rice: I’ll let other countries speak for themselves, but I will say there were many questions asked, many questions answered, but frankly the fact is this Council moved with remarkable speed in response to the great urgency of the situation on the ground. And that necessitated doing so without all of the questions that some might have asked, immediately answered. But the fact is, the bulk of the Council, we spent many hours, as you know, going over all of these issues. We and others were very clear in outlining our intentions and expectations. Members of the Council heard that and took their decisions accordingly. Thank you very much.