President Barack Obama
President Barack ObamaIsrael news photo: The White House

U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters at a news conference with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on Monday that it's time for Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi “to go.”

The military objective of Allied forces in Libya, Obama said, is to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Qaddafi, not to oust the dictator from power.

However, he said, the official U.S. policy is that Qaddafi “needs to go,” and added that there is “a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy.”

Obama said the U.S. also expects to transfer its lead in the military operations to other Allied forces “in a matter of days, and not in a matter of weeks.”

The U.S. military is “already stretched,” he said. “Whenever it's possible for us to be able to get international cooperation... in terms of planes and pilots and resources, that's something we should actively seek and embrace. It relieves the burden on the U.S. military and on U.S. taxpayers.”