SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is my ninth trip to discuss the current crisis in Libya, and each time I have urged that our partners stay focused on the ultimate objective of helping the Libyan people chart their way to a better future. And today, that future is within their reach. All of us are inspired by what is happening in Libya.
Six months ago, Libyans stood up to demand fundamental rights and freedom. And when Qadhafi met their peaceful protest with violence, the Libyan people refused to back down. While their struggle is not over, the Libyan people are taking back their country. Libya’s transformation is the – largely the result of their own courage and their resilience in the face of very difficult days. The sacrifice that the Libyan people have been willing to make in order to obtain freedom and dignity has been extraordinary.
But the United States and our international partners are also proud of our own contributions. When Qadhafi threatened Benghazi, we assembled an unprecedented coalition that included NATO and Arab countries, and acted quickly to prevent a massacre. We sought and won local, regional, and international support, including the backing of the UN and the Arab League. And after deploying our unique military capabilities at the outset, the United States played a key role in a genuinely shared effort as our allies stepped up. As time went on, our coalition grew even stronger.
Today, the international community must maintain the same sense of resolve and shared responsibility. We know from experience that winning a war is no guarantee of winning the peace that follows. That is why even as we sought to protect civilians and pressured Qadhafi to step down, we have supported the Libyans as they laid the groundwork for a transition to democracy that is just, inclusive, and sustainable.
What happens in the coming days will be critical, and the international community has to help the Libyan people get it right. First, as I told my counterparts earlier today, we need to continue NATO’s military mission as long as civilians remain under threat of attack. For the sake of the Libyan people, we have called on Qadhafi and those around him to recognize that their time is over and lay down their arms. And as the new Libyan authorities consolidate power, we will support their efforts to demobilize and integrate fighters into a single security force.
Second, we need to welcome Libya back into the community of nations. Nearly 70 countries so far have recognized the TNC, including 18 African nations, the Arab League, and now Russia. It is time for others to follow suit.
Third, we must continue to support the interim Libyan authority’s efforts to meet the needs of the Libyan people. The United States and our partners have worked through the United Nations to unfreeze billions of dollars in order for Libya to get access to their state assets to meet critical needs. I am pleased to announce that by the end of today, the United States expects to have delivered $700 million to help the TNC pay for fuel and civilian operating costs and salaries, with another 800 million on the way. We are working with the TNC to ensure that these funds are disbursed in a transparent, accountable manner. It must be clear to Libyans and to the world that this money is being used to serve the Libyan people.
Fourth, the international community, led by the United Nations, needs to help the Libyan people and their leaders pave a path to peaceful, inclusive democracy – one that banishes violence as a political tool and promotes tolerance and pluralism. After 42 years of Qadhafi’s rule, it is going to take time to build institutions, strengthen civil society, write a constitution, hold free and fair elections, and put in place an elected, legitimate Libyan government. We encourage the world’s democracies to offer expertise and technical assistance along the way.
As Libya’s leaders have emphasized repeatedly, Libya’s transition must proceed in a spirit of reconciliation and justice, not retribution or reprisal. Libyans must continue to stand against violence extremism and work with us to ensure that weapons from Qadhafi’s stockpiles do not threaten Libya or Libya’s neighbors or the world.
In fact, the international community will be watching and supporting Libya’s leaders as they keep their commitments to conduct an inclusive transition, act under the rule of law, and protect vulnerable populations. And that should include enshrining the rights of women as well as men in their new constitution.
A great deal of work lies ahead to build a stable, unified, and free Libya – a Libya that has never before existed in its modern history. The challenges may be formidable, but so is the progress we have already seen. We have stood with the Libyan people in their moment of need and we must continue to stand with them for the foreseeable future.
Finally, I want to say a few words about Syria. President Asad’s brutality against unarmed citizens has outraged the region, the world, and most importantly the Syrian people themselves. The Arab League, the GCC, the Jordanian and Egyptian governments have all condemned his abuses. And after repeated warnings, Turkey’s president announced that he too has lost confidence in Asad.
The violence must stop, and he needs to step aside. Syria must be allowed to move forward. Those who have joined us in this call must now translate our rhetoric into concrete actions to escalate the pressure on Asad and those around him, including strong new sanctions targeting Syria’s energy sector to deny the regime the revenues that fund its campaign of violence. The EU has already taken important steps, and I’m pleased to hear that more are on the way.
Just as we have done in Libya, we are also encouraging the Syrian opposition to set forth their own roadmap for a tolerant, inclusive, and democratic path forward, one that can bring together all Syrians, Christians, and Alawites. Everyone who lives in Syria today must be part of the new Syria that should be developed in the months ahead. The people of Syria, like people everywhere, deserve a government that respects their rights equally and without discrimination. Syria’s transition to democracy has already begun. It is time for President Asad to acknowledge that and step aside so the Syrian people themselves can decide their own future.
It is very heartening that this year, Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan families will celebrate Eid at a moment of promise. May this be a year when the tide of freedom and progress rises around the world. And I want to wish Muslims everywhere an Eid Mubarak.
And with that, I will take your questions.
MS. NULAND: We have time for (inaudible). The first question, CNN, Elise Labott.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about what the Libyans spoke to you about what it is that they need, how the international community can help. And how do you envision a UN mission working towards this end? How quickly do you think one could get on the ground? And how do you see the UN working as a coordinator of international response?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Elise, I was very encouraged by the meeting today. I want to again commend President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron for bringing us all together, along with Chairman Jalil and Prime Minister Jibril. I think that what we heard today was very promising, in that the TNC has specific requests that they wish to make to the international community. They did so in my bilateral meeting with them, and of course, they did so in the larger meeting as well.
What they are looking for is, number one, continuing support to ensure that the violence ends, that there can be no credible effort by Qadhafi and those still supporting him to continue wreaking violence against Libyans. And they were very clear in their request that the NATO role continue, and NATO, in turn, was very clear that it will maintain its presence over Libya until there is no longer a need to protect civilians from attacks or the threat of attacks.
And of course, NATO is also focused on trying to do all we can to protect Libya from Qadhafi and those troops that are still under his command. Secondly, the TNC was very clear that they need to have the funds that are Libyan state funds unfrozen and released to them as soon as possible. I’m very pleased that the United States was able to persuade the United Nations to lift the sanctions and to approve the release of $1.5 billion. That is being matched by hundreds of millions of dollars coming from others who have frozen assets within their borders. And now, we’ve got to do everything possible to make sure that the TNC has the resources it needs. There are a lot of humanitarian urgent needs that have to be met.
Thirdly, we want what they want – more recognition. As I said in my opening remarks, more than 70 nations have recognized the TNC, but we want to seat the TNC, representing Libya, in every international organization, including the United Nations. We’re pleased that the Arab League had introduced that resolution and that the TNC now represents Libya in the Arab League.
Fourth, I think it’s important that they requested assistance in all kinds of areas where they need expertise, whether it is ensuring that the financial mechanism they’re setting up has the level of accountability and transparency that is required, to helping them put together an impartial, independent police force, to helping them find ways to provide housing for Libyans who have been bombed out or had their homes destroyed or who will be coming back from having sought refuge elsewhere.
And I guess, finally, the Libyans were very responsive to the long list of ideas that were presented throughout the day. And I was impressed by their openness. And they still have a huge hill to climb here. They don’t yet have their whole country secure. But they are working with the international community to secure both chemical weapon stockpiles as well as conventional weapons. They are taking action against extremism wherever they find it.
So I guess in general, I would have to stay that today’s meeting validated the confidence that all the other nations around the table had placed in the TNC. And they were realistic about how much they have to do and how much they still face in the days ahead. But it was an excellent transition from the Contact Group, which dealt primarily with protecting civilians and ending the terror of the Qadhafi regime, to the reconstruction, rebuilding, transition period.
QUESTION: What about our UN mission, Madam Secretary?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the UN mission is going to be put together in an expeditious manner. Ban Ki-moon met with the TNC leadership at the larger meeting. He spoke about the kinds of assets the UN could bring. All of us support the UN taking the lead in the reconstruction and transition period ahead, so they’re going to be working through all the details of that. And importantly, countries are reopening embassies. The Italians reopened their embassy in Tripoli today and have a new ambassador named. I’m sending a team to Tripoli to check out our Embassy building and see what we need to do to be able to get our diplomatic presence at the highest level again.
So there was so much discussed and so many decisions that we ticked down. It was a worthwhile and productive day.
MS. NULAND: Last question (inaudible).
QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary. There’s a lot of anger on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. at large about Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the fact that he’s still at large in Libya. We understand you brought the issue up with Libya’s new leaders. Could you tell us what you asked of them and how they responded?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Nicole, first I want to underscore the fact that I share the anger. As you know, I represented New York for eight years. A lot of the people who were killed came from either Syracuse University or nearby in upstate New York. And as I have said many times, the United States categorically disagrees with the decision that was made two years ago by the Scottish executive to release al-Megrahi and return him to Libya. We have never wavered from our disagreement and condemnation of that decision. He should be behind bars. We have consistently extended our deepest sympathies to those families who have to live every day with the knowledge that they lost their loved ones, and they wanted justice to prevail, and we think justice was aborted.
So we will continue to pursue justice on behalf of the victims of this terrorist attack. The United States has kept open the case concerning the Lockerbie bombing. We have raised the investigation with the TNC. We’ve conveyed the importance that the United States places on this issue. We want more information, and we want to have access to those who might have been somehow involved in the planning or execution of the bombing.
We recognize the magnitude of all of the issues that the TNC is facing, and we know that they have to establish security, the rule of law, good governance. But at the same time, they’ve assured us that they understand the sensitivities surrounding this case, and they will give the matter the consideration it richly deserves at the earliest opportunity.
Thank you all.
The events in Libya this week have heartened the world. The situation remains fluid, but it is clear that the Qadhafi era is coming to an end, opening the way for a new era in Libya—one of liberty, justice, and peace.
We join the Libyan people in celebrating the courageous individuals who have stood up to a tyrant and defended their homes and communities against Qadhafi’s violence.
The United States and the international community have stood by the Libyan people during many difficult days in the last six months. Together, we prevented a massacre, and we supported the people’s efforts to gain their freedom. We will continue to support them as they take on the regime elements that still pose a threat to Libya’s future – and as they address their humanitarian needs and rebuild their nation. The Libyan people made this revolution and they will lead the way forward, but they deserve our help. Libya’s future is not guaranteed. Considerable work lies ahead.
The coming days and weeks will be critical. The United States and its partners are moving quickly and decisively on several fronts.
Earlier this week, I spoke by phone with the Chair of the Transitional National Council, Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, to express our support for the TNC’s efforts and to discuss next steps. I also hosted a conference call of foreign ministers of many of the member nations of Libya Contact Group, to coordinate our efforts – humanitarian, financial, diplomatic, and otherwise – on behalf of the Libyan people. Today, the Libya Contact Group held a meeting in Istanbul to demonstrate our continued commitment to Libya and to focus on the urgent financial needs of the TNC. The Contact Group called for an expedited process to lift sanctions on Libyan assets. The United States supports this call.
Today, we have secured the release of $1.5 billion in Libyan assets that had been frozen in the United States. This money will go toward meeting the needs of the people of Libya. We urge other nations to take similar measures. Many are already doing so.
As funds are released, we look to the Transitional National Council to fulfill its international responsibilities and the commitments it has made to build a tolerant, unified democratic state—one that protects the universal human rights of all its citizens. It is critical that the TNC engage swiftly with communities and leaders across Libya to ensure order, provide critical basic services to the people, and pave the way for a full democratic transition. Libya’s future will be peaceful only if the leaders and people of Libya reach out to each other in a spirit of peace. There can be no place in the new Libya for revenge attacks and reprisals.
The TNC also has obligations to the international community. We will look to them to ensure that Libya fulfills its treaty responsibilities, that it ensures that its weapons stockpiles do not threaten its neighbors or fall into the wrong hands, and that it takes a firm stand against violent extremism. At the same time, we call on Qadhafi, his family, and his supporters to bring an end to their continuing violence for the sake of the Libyan people and Libya’s future.
From the beginning, the United States has played a central role in marshalling the international response to the crisis in Libya. Together with our partners, we have saved thousands of lives and helped confront a ruthless, erratic dictator who was poised to slaughter his own people in order to hold on to power. The United States will stand with the Libyan people and our international partners in the weeks and months ahead, to help as Libyans write the next chapter of their history.
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I just completed a call with my National Security Council on the situation in Libya. And earlier today I spoke to Prime Minister Cameron about the extraordinary events taking place there.
The situation is still very fluid. There remains a degree of uncertainty and there are still regime elements who pose a threat. But this much is clear: The Qaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.
In just six months, the 42-year reign of Muammar Qaddafi has unraveled. Earlier this year, we were inspired by the peaceful protests that broke out across Libya. This basic and joyful longing for human freedom echoed the voices that we had heard all across the region, from Tunis to Cairo. In the face of these protests, the Qaddafi regime responded with brutal crackdowns. Civilians were murdered in the streets. A campaign of violence was launched against the Libyan people. Qaddafi threatened to hunt peaceful protestors down like rats. As his forces advanced across the country, there existed the potential for wholesale massacres of innocent civilians.
In the face of this aggression, the international community took action. The United States helped shape a U.N. Security Council resolution that mandated the protection of Libyan civilians. An unprecedented coalition was formed that included the United States, our NATO partners and Arab nations. And in March, the international community launched a military operation to save lives and stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.
In the early days of this intervention the United States provided the bulk of the firepower, and then our friends and allies stepped forward. The Transitional National Council established itself as a credible representative of the Libyan people. And the United States, together with our European allies and friends across the region, recognized the TNC as the legitimate governing authority in Libya.
Qaddafi was cut off from arms and cash, and his forces were steadily degraded. From Benghazi to Misrata to the western mountains, the Libyan opposition courageously confronted the regime, and the tide turned in their favor.
Over the last several days, the situation in Libya has reached a tipping point as the opposition increased its coordination from east to west, took town after town, and the people of Tripoli rose up to claim their freedom.
For over four decades, the Libyan people have lived under the rule of a tyrant who denied them their most basic human rights. Now, the celebrations that we’ve seen in the streets of Libya shows that the pursuit of human dignity is far stronger than any dictator. I want to emphasize that this is not over yet. As the regime collapses, there is still fierce fighting in some areas, and we have reports of regime elements threatening to continue fighting.
Although it’s clear that Qaddafi’s rule is over, he still has the opportunity to reduce further bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight to lay down their arms for the sake of Libya.
As we move forward from this pivotal phase, the opposition should continue to take important steps to bring about a transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just. As the leadership of the TNC has made clear, the rights of all Libyans must be respected. True justice will not come from reprisals and violence; it will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny.
In that effort, the United States will be a friend and a partner. We will join with allies and partners to continue the work of safeguarding the people of Libya. As remaining regime elements menace parts of the country, I’ve directed my team to be in close contact with NATO as well as the United Nations to determine other steps that we can take. To deal with the humanitarian impact, we’re working to ensure that critical supplies reach those in need, particularly those who have been wounded.
Secretary Clinton spoke today with her counterparts from leading nations of the coalition on all these matters. And I’ve directed Ambassador Susan Rice to request that the U.N. Secretary General use next month’s general assembly to support this important transition.
For many months, the TNC has been working with the international community to prepare for a post-Qaddafi Libya. As those efforts proceed, our diplomats will work with the TNC as they ensure that the institutions of the Libyan state are protected, and we will support them with the assets of the Qaddafi regime that were frozen earlier this year. Above all, we will call for an inclusive transition that leads to a democratic Libya.
As we move forward, we should also recognize the extraordinary work that has already been done. To the American people, these events have particular resonance. Qaddafi’s regime has murdered scores of American citizens in acts of terror in the past. Today we remember the lives of those who were taken in those acts of terror and stand in solidarity with their families. We also pay tribute to Admiral Sam Locklear and all of the men and women in uniform who have saved so many lives over the last several months, including our brave pilots that have executed their mission with skill and extraordinary bravery. And all of this was done without putting a single U.S. troop on the ground.
To our friends and allies, the Libyan intervention demonstrates what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one — although the efforts in Libya are not yet over. NATO has once more proven that it is the most capable alliance in the world and that its strength comes from both its firepower and the power of our democratic ideals. And the Arab members of our coalition have stepped up and shown what can be achieved when we act together as equal partners. Their actions send a powerful message about the unity of our effort and our support for the future of Libya.
Finally, the Libyan people: Your courage and character have been unbreakable in the face of a tyrant. An ocean divides us, but we are joined in the basic human longing for freedom, for justice and for dignity. Your revolution is your own, and your sacrifices have been extraordinary. Now, the Libya that you deserve is within your reach. Going forward, we will stay in close coordination with the TNC to support that outcome. And though there will be huge challenges ahead, the extraordinary events in Libya remind us that fear can give way to hope and that the power of people striving for freedom can bring about a brighter day.
Thank you very much.
Tonight, the momentum against the Qadhafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qadhafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.
The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all. Meanwhile, the United States has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya. A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.
The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people. Going forward, the United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC. We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy.
The United States welcomes the release of the foreign journalists in Libya, including two U.S. citizens, and thanks all of the governments and individuals who worked on behalf of our citizens.
We call upon the Libyan government to immediately release all U.S. citizens and others who are being unjustly detained. Qadhafi and his regime must allow journalists to carry out their work within Libya free from fear and intimidation and to respect the universal rights of everyone in Libya, including U.S. citizens and others. We will continue to work relentlessly to secure the release of all U.S. citizens unjustly detained in Libya and — with the help of the international community — hold accountable those responsible for the reprehensible human rights abuses against the Libyan people and others within Libya.
The United States supports the Libyan people’s desire for legitimate reforms and a peaceful political transition. Unfortunately, the Qadhafi regime has responded to the people’s democratic aspirations with repression and violence, employing deadly and indiscriminate force against civilians and civilian populated areas. Following Qadhafi’s first brutal attacks on Libyan civilians, the United States, along with the international community, mobilized a broad coalition, secured an international mandate to protect civilians, stopped Qadhafi’s advance on Benghazi, prevented a humanitarian catastrophe, and established a no-fly zone and arms embargo. We also implemented our own unilateral response – including sanctions – to the Qadhafi regime’s atrocities. As part of the NATO-led coalition, the United States continues to provide critical support the mission to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas in Libya.
Engaging and Assisting the Opposition
We have engaged the Libyan opposition, appointing an envoy to Benghazi, who has met regularly with members of the Transitional National Council (TNC) and emerging civil society groups.
We welcome the TNC’s clear statements noting its intent to respect the Geneva Conventions, respect for human rights, and repudiation of terrorism; we continue to do our best to monitor the human rights situation in all parts of Libya. We believe the TNC continues to serve as a credible and legitimate interlocutor for the opposition and the Libyan people.
The President directed up to $25 million in transfers of non-lethal items from U.S. Government stocks, and the transportation of these items. These items include medical equipment, protective vests, and binoculars. The first shipment, which included 10,000 cases of Halal Meals Ready to Eat (MRE), arrived in Benghazi on May 10. We are continuing to review and assess options for the types of assistance we could provide to the Libyan people.
Addressing Humanitarian Needs
The United States has provided $53.5 million to date to meet humanitarian needs inside and on the borders of Libya.
With United States Government funding, the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) has worked to streamline the delivery of medicines and supplies to besieged cities in western Libya and establish medical training centers in eastern Libya to train volunteers in first aid and transport of critically injured individuals. Our funding also supports humanitarian coordination activities and an air service to provide vital international transport of staff and supplies into Benghazi. In addition, several U.S.-funded Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are actively providing assistance inside Libya, reaching besieged cities with emergency relief commodities and medical supplies and personnel.
The U.S. Government also has provided funding to facilitate the critical efforts of organizations such as International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), including evacuating and repatriating third-country nationals and meeting the needs of refugees in Tunisia and Egypt
In addition, a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is working closely with host governments, the United Nations, NGOs, and other international partners to assess and address urgent humanitarian needs in Libya and neighboring countries
Lastly, the DART is coordinating with other donors on the ground to look at key transition needs, including participating in the United Kingdom led assessment team.
I thank the Chairman and Senator Lugar for inviting me today. I appreciate this chance to update the committee on our efforts and answer your questions.
During my last appearance, I reviewed for the committee the developments that led up to the international community’s engagement in Libya. Colonel Qadhafi met the peaceful protests of his own people with violence. When the UN Security Council, the Arab League, and the United States all demanded that atrocities must end, Qadhafi responded with a promise to show ―no mercy and no pity.
We quickly reached two important conclusions. First, we would not stand by as Qadhafi brutalized his own people. Second, Qadhafi had lost the legitimacy to lead, and he had to go to allow the Libyan people to reclaim their own future.
And so we assembled an international coalition of European and Arab allies with a clear, limited mission to enforce UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and protect the Libyan people. We offered our unique military capabilities early on and then turned over full command and control responsibility to a NATO-led coalition. Three-quarters of the over 6,000 sorties flown in Libya have now been by non-US coalition partners, a share that has increased. All twenty ships enforcing the arms embargo are European or Canadian. And the overwhelming majority of strike sorties are now being flown by our European allies. We are proud of our continuing contribution and grateful as our allies increasingly carry the burden.
As the coalition continues to carry out its best efforts to protect Libya’s civilian population, we continue to pursue three tracks on the political and economic front: pressuring and isolating Qadhafi; supporting the Libyan people in determining their own future; and delivering humanitarian aid.
First, we are working to escalate the pressure, deepen Qadhafi’s isolation and convince those around him that Libya’s future lies elsewhere.
The international community is increasingly united around a shared insistence that Qadhafi must go. Last week’s Contact Group – with the participation of 22 nations and representatives from the UN, Arab League, NATO, EU, OIC and GCC—issued its most forceful statement yet, including that ―Qadhafi, his family and his regime have lost all legitimacy. They must go so that the Libyan people can determine their own future.‖ Turkey, once an important partner to Qadhafi’s Libya, has now joined the chorus of nations demanding that he leave immediately. The British, Italians and French are expelling Qadhafi’s diplomats, as we did in March. And we are urging other nations to refuse their visits unless Qadhafi’s envoys are either defecting or coming to discuss his departure.
We are taking a wide range of steps to send a clear, forceful message to Qadhafi and those around him that there is no going back to the way things were. They now face a no-fly zone, an arms embargo, asset freezes, and travel bans. Libya’s National Oil Corporation and central bank are blacklisted. The United States and other countries are also taking further unilateral steps to tighten the squeeze on regime officials and regime-affiliated banks, businesses and satellite networks. This week, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced that he intends to apply for arrest warrants for three senior officials in Qadhafi’s regime ―who bear the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity.
These measures are having an effect. We have deprived the regime of funds and assets that could be used to support attacks against the Libyan people. Libya used to export 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. That has stopped, and the regime is having difficulty accessing refined petroleum. There are some indications that the regime can no longer afford to pay supporters to attend rallies and demonstrations. The longer international sanctions stay in place, the more the pressure will mount.
Second, we are supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people, who deserve a successful transition to democracy just as much as their neighbors in Egypt and Tunisia.
Last time I testified, there were a great many questions about the makeup and intentions of the Libyan opposition. Our envoy, Chris Stevens, has been in Benghazi for several weeks now and has held meetings with a wide range of Libyan opposition members, including but not limited to the Transitional National Council (TNC). Secretary Clinton has met three times with Libyan opposition leaders and urged others to do the same. Several of you met with TNC leader Mahmoud Jibirl, including Chairman Kerry, yesterday. I will host him and his delegation at the State Department on Friday and he will meet National Security Advisor Tom Donilon at the White House Friday afternoon as well. Though it will be important to ensure that words are matched by actions, we have been encouraged by the TNC’s public statements on democracy, treatment of prisoners, human rights and terrorism. We have continued to stress the importance of the TNC distancing itself from extremists who could seek to hijack the popular movement, and we have been pleased by the clear view of the TNC leadership rejecting extremism and calling for tolerant democracy.
As we have gotten to know the Libyan opposition, we have stepped up our political, financial and non-lethal military support. As we notified Congress, we are providing up to $25 million for the provision of non-lethal items to the TNC. The carefully-chosen list includes medical supplies, boots, tents, rations and personal protective gear. The first shipment, 10,000 MREs, arrived on Tuesday.
The TNC has also requested urgent financial assistance. The Treasury Department has published new rules to remove sanctions on oil sales that will benefit the TNC. In Rome, the Libya Contact Group created a Temporary Financial Mechanism to provide transparent financial assistance to the opposition. Kuwait has already committed to contribute $180 million.
As Secretary Clinton said in Rome, we hope to work quickly with Congress to begin unfreezing Libyan government assets to meet pressing humanitarian needs. On Wednesday, we continued our consultations with Congress and shared our proposal. The bill authorizes the President to vest Libyan government property within the jurisdiction of the United States and use it for costs related to humanitarian relief to and for the benefit of the Libyan people. We see this legislation as addressing unique circumstances in Libya for limited, humanitarian purposes. This money belongs to the Libyan people, and it should serve the Libyan people.
Third, protecting civilians remains at the core of our mission. We are engaged in robust humanitarian efforts to help those in need inside Libya and those who have fled the violence. Our government is providing more than $53 million in humanitarian assistance, which helps to evacuate and repatriate third-country nationals, care for refugees on Libya’s borders and deliver food and medicine. The international community has already contributed, committed or pledged $245 million. We continue to look for additional ways to support humanitarian operations in response to the Libyan crisis.
Unfortunately, the Qadhafi regime has tried to block the delivery of desperately-needed humanitarian assistance. The brave people of Misrata have withstood a month-long siege as well as repeated incursions, assaults and atrocities. Qadhafi has blocked water, gas, and electricity. And this week, his regime laid anti-ship mines in Misrata’s harbor in a failed attempt to block humanitarian aid and medical evacuations. What has happened in Misrata is an outrage. Despite Qadhafi’s best efforts, we have now established a safe route for assistance to reach Misrata and its people.
We salute the determination and resilience of the Libyan people in and around Misrata. We are inspired by the way they have stepped forward to protect and care for their neighbors who managed to escape from areas under attack. We are also proud that NGOs we fund have provided much needed medical personnel and supplies to these cities, despite Qadhafi’s attacks.
Qadhafi knows what he needs to do. The violence must end and the threats must stop. His troops must withdraw from the cities they have entered. Humanitarian goods must be allowed to move freely and vital services must be restored. Qadhafi must go to allow the people of Libya to chart their own future.
Our approach is one that has succeeded before. In Kosovo, we built an international coalition around a narrow civilian protection mission. Even after Milosevic withdrew his forces and the bombing stopped, the political and economic pressure continued. Within two years, Milosevic was thrown out of office and turned over to The Hague.
I understand the desire for quick results, and of course I share it. But history teaches us that patience and persistence can pay off. We have already seen international pressure change the calculations of some of Qadhafi’s closest advisors, who have defected. It is impossible to predict which step will tip the balance.
The way forward is not easy. It will take sustained effort. And it will take continued close consultation with Congress.
We know what needs to happen. And so we are using as many tools and levers as we can to bring about our ultimate objective: the end of Qadhafi’s rule and a new beginning for a peaceful, democratic Libya.
The United States condemns the Qadhafi regime’s continued brutal attacks on the Libyan people in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for a stop to all attacks on civilians and an immediate ceasefire. In particular, we urge the Qadhafi regime to cease hostilities in Misrata port and to allow the International Organization for Migration and other organizations to provide much needed relief and evacuation services to civilians caught up in the Libyan conflict. This includes taking all measures to facilitate international efforts to evacuate third-country nationals and wounded Libyans from the port city of Misrata.
The International Organization for Migration reports that migrants from Africa and Asia remain stranded in Misrata, including women and children. In addition, many badly wounded civilians, currently in Misrata’s overwhelmed hospitals, are in need of urgent medical evacuation. The International Organization for Migration’s efforts to deliver relief supplies and to evacuate additional migrants and wounded have been delayed by shelling as well as the threat of anti-shipping mines laid in the port.
The United States is making available an additional $6.5 million for International Organization for Migration operations in response to the crisis in Libya, including the evacuation from Misrata. This brings to $53.5 million the total the U.S. Government is providing for emergency assistance and to meet the humanitarian needs of conflict victims, vulnerable migrants, and others displaced by the civil unrest in Libya.
The United States strongly condemns the ongoing violence and human rights violations committed by the government of Libya against its own people. As President Obama said, these actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. They must stop.
We are moving quickly on a series of steps to hold the Libyan government accountable for its violation of human rights and to mobilize a strong response from the international community.
Last night the United States took action to limit the ability of senior officials of the Qadhafi regime to travel. As Secretary of State, I signed an order directing the Department to revoke U.S. visas held by these officials, others responsible for human rights violations in Libya, and their immediate family members. As a matter of policy, new visa applications will be denied.
This step followed President Obama’s Executive Order freezing assets and imposing financial sanctions on members of the regime responsible for abuses against their own people and the suspension of the very limited defense trade we have had with Libya, including pending sales of spare military parts and other licenses allowing private companies to sell military equipment there.
The United States is also working with our friends and partners to mobilize a strong and unified response from the international community to hold accountable the perpetrators of these unacceptable violations of universal human rights. This afternoon I continued close consultations with our European allies, including EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. Negotiations are underway at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution that would impose new sanctions and restrictions. On Monday, I will meet with a number of counterparts in Geneva and address the UN Human Rights Council, which on Friday recommended suspending Libya’s membership and established an independent commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations by the Libyan government with a view towards ensuring that those responsible are held accountable. We are also working with partners to determine how to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need. Consistent with the President’s guidance, we will continue to look at the full range of options to hold the Libyan government accountable and support the Libyan people.
We have always said that the Qadhafi government’s future is a matter for the Libyan people to decide, and they have made themselves clear. When a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now. Moammar Qadhafi has lost the confidence of his people and he should go without further bloodshed and violence. The Libyan people deserve a government that is responsive to their aspirations and that protects their universally recognized human rights.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me start by saying as strongly as I can that the United States and the American people support the aspirations and rights of the Libyan people. They are clearly sending as strong a message as they are capable of doing that it is time for Qadhafi to go. We think he must go as soon as possible without further bloodshed and violence.
We are also very conscious of the actions that have been taken against the Libyan people by the Qadhafi regime. And the Security Council resolution passed unanimously yesterday makes clear there will be accountability for crimes against humanity and war crimes and other atrocities that are being perpetrated against the Libyan people, including a referral to the International Criminal Court. And I want to underscore this unanimous message from the Security Council to those who are around Qadhafi that you will be held accountable for the actions that are being taken and have been taken against your own people.
The Security Council resolution yesterday was part of a concerted effort that the United States has been lining up and implementing over the last days, both for unilateral and multilateral action. And we will continue to pursue steps aggressively that we believe will make a difference. Obviously, the Security Council resolution, which was passed in record time and included countries that are often reluctant to empower the international community to take such actions, sends a strong, unmistakable signal. The specifics that go to targeted sanctions and arms embargo and other measures are exactly what we have been looking toward and wanting to achieve in this period.
It also opens the door for humanitarian relief, which is going to be essential – the numbers of people fleeing across the borders, particularly into Tunisia and Egypt, where those two countries are facing huge humanitarian demands, plus internally displaced people.
There’s also a strong message in the Security Council resolution to countries in the region: You must stop mercenaries, you must stop those who may be going to Libya either at the behest or opportunistically to engage in violence or other criminal acts. And we will be working closely with those neighboring countries to ensure that they do so.
This change that is sweeping across the region is coming from inside societies. It is not coming from the outside. But each country is different, and each country must deal with the demands of their own people and pursue paths that will lead toward change.
The United States supports those who are pursuing the path of reform. In particular, His Majesty King Hamad of Bahrain and His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan are engaged in meaningful outreach and efforts to try to bring about the change that will be in line with the needs of the people of their countries. So this is a period of great historical challenge and opportunity, and the United States will be pursuing actions and policies that we believe are in the best interests of the United States and also in the best interests of the region and the world.
I’ll be glad to take a few questions.
QUESTION: What do you hope to achieve at the Human Rights Council in Geneva? What is the purpose?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are a number of reasons why this is turning into a significant meeting. I will be meeting with many of my counterparts from Europe and beyond to discuss ways that we can better coordinate and organize in meeting the expectations laid down by the Security Council, and thinking through how we can respond to the needs of the Libyan people not only in a humanitarian way but in a political and civil response as they try to sort through how they’re going to organize themselves post-Qadhafi.
I will also be speaking at the Human Rights Council. We made a determination in this Administration to join the Human Rights Council. I think it’s proven to be a good decision because we’ve been able to influence a number of actions that we otherwise would have been on the outside looking in. There are a number of issues on that agenda that we will be working on. I will also go to the Conference on Disarmament because we continue to press for further action in accordance with President Obama’s Prague agenda. So it will be a very busy, exhausting day, but a very fruitful one for me to be there.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, there’s reports that there’s – the former justice minister has set up his interim government in Benghazi. Has the U.S. had any contact with them? Do you think that’s a viable sort of bridging mechanism?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are just at the beginning of what will follow Qadhafi. First we have to see the end of his regime with no further violence and bloodshed, which is a big challenge in front of all of us. But we’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well. I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.
QUESTION: Now that President Obama has said that he should leave, have there been talks with other countries about where he would go? Who would take him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we want him to leave and we want him to end his regime and call off the mercenaries and those troops that remain loyal to him. How he manages that is obviously up to him and to his family. But we have consistently in many conversations over the last week sent messages, and along with partners in the region and beyond have made it clear we expect him to leave. But we’re not involved in any kind of negotiation with him over that.
QUESTION: Thank you.