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US to impose sanctions on Libya, close embassy

February 25, 2011

WASHINGTON — The United States said on Friday it was imposing unilateral and multilateral sanctions on Libya in a bid to halt and punish Moamer Kadhafi’s crackdown on protests.

Washington also said that it has closed its embassy in Tripoli for security reasons, and warned that US intelligence assets were monitoring events for evidence of atrocities committed by Kadhafi’s forces.

The announcements from White House spokesman Jay Carney came as a US-chartered ferry carrying more than 300 evacuees reached safety in the Mediterranean island of Malta, and a chartered flight carrying more US citizens left Tripoli, destination Turkey.

Carney said that Kadhafi had “lost the confidence” of his people, but stopped short of saying that he should go, saying it was up to the Libyans to decide his fate.

The White House had decided with its partners to “move forward” with unilateral and multilateral sanctions against Libya, Carney said, adding that Washington was cutting off limited military assistance and had put financial institutions on notice to watch for sudden movement of funds from the country.

The United States is also “committed to utilizing the full extent of its capabilities to monitor the Kadhafi regime’s behavior to ensure that evidence is gathered of further violence or atrocities committed against the Libyan people,” Carney said.

“We are not removing any options off the table at this point,” Carney said, signaling that more measures could follow.

The State Department said that Washington has “temporarily” withdrawn US diplomatic personnel “given current security conditions in Libya, coupled with our inability to guarantee fully the safety and security of our diplomatic personnel in the country.”

The embassy in Tripoli “has been shuttered,” Carney said.

The move came hours before the United Nations Security Council was due to meet to discuss options to respond to Libya’s repression against its people, and following complaints Washington was acting too slowly.

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