Security Council meets to consider Libya sanctionshttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110226/ap_on_re_us/libya_diplomacy
UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council has begun urgent deliberations to consider imposing sanctions to punish Libya for violent attacks against anti-government protesters.
The sanctions under consideration at Saturday's session include an arms embargo against the Libyan government and a travel ban and asset freeze against Gadhafi, his relatives and key regime members.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging council members to take concrete action to protect civilians in Libya where some estimates indicate more than 1,000 people have been killed in less than two weeks.
The council is also considering whether to refer the violent crackdown in Libya to the International Criminal Court to investigate charging the Gadhafi regime with crimes against humanity.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's prime minister urged the United Nations not to impose sanctions on Libya, warning Saturday that the Libyan people would suffer most, not Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also suggested the international community might be acting more out of concern about Libya's oil reserves than about the welfare of the country's people.
Erdogan spoke hours before U.N. Security Council members were to meet again to discuss ways to punish the Libyan leader for violent attacks against anti-government protesters. Up for consideration are an arms embargo against the Libyan government and a travel ban and asset freeze against Gadhafi, his relatives and key regime members.
"The people are already struggling to find food, how will you feed the Libyan people?" Erdogan asked. "Sanctions, an intervention, would force the Libyan people, who are already up against hunger and violence, into a more desperate situation."
"We call on the international community to act with conscience, justice, laws and universal humane values — not out of oil concerns," he said.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron talked on the phone Saturday and agreed the U.N. Security Council should approve harsh sanctions against the Libyan regime as soon as possible, Merkel's spokesman, Christoph Steegmans said in a statement.
Merkel and Cameron also were in favor of European Union sanctions against Libya, he said.
Cameron's office said he also spoke with Erdogan and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and "made clear that the Libyan regime would face the consequences of its actions."
"There can be no impunity for the blatant and inhuman disregard for basic rights that is taking place in Libya," Cameron was quoted as saying.
In Washington, the White House announced sweeping new sanctions and temporarily abandoned its embassy in Tripoli as a final flight carrying American citizens left the embattled capital.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley hit at Gadhafi in a Twitter posting Saturday.
"Despite Qaddafi's hardly sober claim that the protesters are on drugs, the people of Libya are clear-eyed in their demand for change," he tweeted.
The U.N. Security Council was meeting Saturday for the second time in two days, under pressure from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take concrete action to protect civilians in Libya. On Friday, Libya's ambassador to the U.N. beseeched the council to help halt the deadly attacks that his once-close comrade has unleashed on his critics.
"I hope that within hours, not days, they can do something tangible, effective to stop what they are doing there — Gadhafi and his sons — against our people," Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham said after addressing the council.
A draft sanctions resolution circulated by France, Britain, Germany and the United States also would refer Gadhafi's violent crackdown to the International Criminal Court so it can investigate possible crimes against humanity.
Ban said some estimates indicate more than 1,000 people have been killed in less than two weeks since the protests broke out in the North African country, and that many people cannot leave their homes for fear of being shot.
"In these circumstances, the loss of time means more loss of lives," the U.N. chief said.
A nonviolent revolt against Gadhafi's four-decade-old rule began Feb. 15 amid a wave of uprisings across North Africa and has swept over most of the country's eastern half. Witnesses say Gadhafi's government has responded by shooting on protesters in numerous cities.
For the second time this week, the Security Council called for "an immediate end to the violence," expressing grave concern at the deteriorating situation, particularly "reports of civilian casualties on a very large scale."
In Geneva on Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council called for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya and recommended Libya's suspension from membership of the top human rights body.
France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters there was broad agreement among the council's 15 members on an asset freeze and travel ban, which will name about 20 top Libyans, and on an arms embargo.
Araud said the proposed sanctions do not include a no-fly zone over Libya and no U.N.-sanctioned military action was planned. NATO has also ruled out any intervention in Libya.
Associated Press reporters Anita Snow and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and John Heilprin and Frank Jordans in Geneva, and Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.