US President Barack Obama has said that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi "needs to go", but asserted that the ongoing international air raids in support of a no-fly zone over Libya are not meant to achieve that goal. According to Xinhua, Obama said: "I have stated that it is US policy that Gaddafi needs to go."
"We've got a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy," he said, referring to US unilateral sanctions and push for international sanctions on the Gaddafi government.
But he stressed that the current US military action is in support of an "international mandate" from the UN Security Council that specifically focuses on the humanitarian threat posed by Gaddafi, and the US will stick to that mandate.
Obama said this Monday in Chile during a joint press conference with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.
The UN Security Council resolution adopted last week authorized a no-fly zone over Libya to "protect civilians" of the country, which is different from the US policy to see the toppling of Gaddafi.
"There is going to be a transition taking place in which we are one of the partners among many who are going to ensure that no-fly zone is in force and that the humanitarian protection that needs to be provided continues to be in place," said the US president.
"After consultation with our allies, we decided to move forward, " he said, adding he expected the transition from military actions to establishing a no-fly zone to take place "in matter of days".
A coalition of American, British and French forces bombed by air and from the sea key targets in Libya in aid of rebels holding Benghazi, the country's second largest city.
French jets launched the attack -- named Operation Odyssey Dawn -- Saturday, hitting government tanks and armoured vehicles on the road to Benghazi.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview with Russia's Interfax news agency on Monday that the United States will soon scale down its participation in the military actions against Libya.