In a tough message hours after the UN slapped "biting" sanctions on the Libyan regime, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told a bellicose Muammar Gaddafi to leave the country and end his regime as soon as possible.
"We think he must go as soon as possible without further bloodshed and violence," Clinton told reporters as she headed towards Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights Council meeting on Monday.
"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," Clinton said.
"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," she said in response to a question.
Clinton said what will follow Gaddafi is just at the beginning. Observers have said that about 2,000 or more people have been killed across Libya in the past few days of violence.
"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," she noted.
"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," she said.
In Geneva, Clinton said, she would be meeting with many of her counterparts from Europe and beyond to discuss ways that they can better coordinate and organize in meeting the expectations laid down by the Security Council and thinking through how they 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-Gaddafi.
Referring to the UN Security Council resolution that slapped sanctions on the Libyan regime, Clinton said it 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.
"I want to underscore this unanimous message from the Security Council to those who are around Gaddafi that you will be held accountable for the actions that are being taken and have been taken against your own people," she said.