France and Germany called on the European Union on Wednesday to consider sanctions on Libya by suspending economic, commercial and financial relations with the country.
The request came in response to the brutal crackdown by Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi's on the anti-regime protesters in his country.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, French President Nicholas Sarkozy asked his foreign minister to propose that EU member states quickly approve concrete sanctions against those responsible for the violence in Libya. These sanctions could include prohibiting their entry into the EU and tracking their financial transactions.
The French president urged Libya's leaders in a statement to start dialogue immediately so as to end the “tragedy” in the country. “The international community cannot remain a spectator facing those massive violations of human rights,” he said.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that sanctions are unavoidable if the bloodshed in Libya continues. The Wall Street Journal quoted a German government spokesman, who said that Germany is consulting with other European governments on possibilities for sanctions.
On Wednesday, a European committee on security and defense met in Brussels to discuss options for action against Libya. A German foreign ministry spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that no decisions have been met but that European leaders were considering their options, including those suggested by France.
The EU's foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a statement following the meeting saying that the European Union stood ready to do whatever was necessary to bring Qaddafi to account for his brutal actions against protesters.
“The EU stresses that those responsible for the brutal aggression and violence against civilians will be held to account,” Ashton said. “The EU is ready ... to take further measures.”
Obama condemns Libya violence
Meanwhile on Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama ended his silence and expressed condemnation of the events in Libya, using the sharpest terms Washington has yet used, The Associated Press reported.
According to the report, Obama directed his administration to prepare a full range of options, including possible sanctions against Libya, that could freeze assets and ban travel to the U.S. by Libyan officials. Obama added that he would send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva for talks with international diplomats aimed at stopping the bloodshed and formulating a unified global message to Qaddafi.
“The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable,” The Associated Press quoted Obama as saying to reporters after his meeting with Clinton at the White House. “So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop.”
This was Obama’s sharpest condemnation of the violence in Libya, but in sharp contrast to his treatment of US ally Mubarak, he once again failed to call on Qaddafi to step down, despite heavy pressure exerted on him by critics to do so. In his message on Wednesday, Obama also did not lay out specific measures that he would take if Qaddafi did not respond to the appeals to stop the violence. For INN's expert's analysis of Obama's reaction, click here.
Obama also urged the entire region to embrace reforms. “Even as we are focused on the urgent situation in Libya, our efforts continue to address the events taking place elsewhere, including how the international community can most effectively support the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt,” he said.