US won’t rule out arming Libyan rebels: Rice

US won’t rule out arming Libyan rebels: Rice

Washington: The Obama administration has not ruled out arming rebel fighters seeking to oust Libya’s longtime leader Moamer Kadhafi, the US ambassador to the United Nations said Tuesday.

“We’ve not made that decision... But we’ve not ruled that out," Susan Rice told ABC television’s “Good Morning America" when asked about military support to the fighters battling Kadhafi’s forces.

The decision to step down rests with Kadhafi alone, according to Rice. But there is no indication he is prepared to do so “absent continued pressure from the international community," she added.

“How Kadhafi departs, and under what circumstances, will ultimately be for the Libyan people to decide," Rice said.

“But the United Nations Security Council, the United States and our allies have made very clear that there needs to be accountability and justice for crimes committed."

She also noted there were ample “non-military means at our disposal" to get rid of the longest-serving Arab ruler after over four decades in power, citing an arms embargo, Kadhafi asset freezes, cutting off the flow of mercenaries to the North African nation and aid to the opposition.

Rice stressed that protecting civilians and establishing a no - fly zone were the main US goals in the international mission there.

“Tens of thousands of people have been saved in a region that is fragile; it is more stable as a result," she told CBS’s “The Early Show."