President Obama to Those Conducting Violence in Libya: "It is Their Choice... and They Will Be Held Accountable"

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Once again today, the President welcomed a great ally to the White House, and once again the violence in Libya demanded a forceful response.  So while Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia and the President had a full day of discussions scheduled, including a visit to a school in the area, the President spent a signficant portion of his remarks in their joint press appearance addressing those involved in the violence and discussing the international response:

And we had a discussion about the situation in the Middle East.  And I think Prime Minister Gillard and I both share a very firm conviction that the violence that's been taking place and perpetrated by the government in Libya is unacceptable.  Australia joined with us in imposing swift and firm sanctions, comprehensive sanctions, against the Libyan government.  We continue to monitor the violence there.

I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Colonel Qaddafi:  It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward, and they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place there. 

In the meantime, we've got NATO, as we speak, consulting in Brussels around a wide range of potential options, including potential military options, in response to the violence that continues to take place inside of Libya.  In addition, we have taken the lead on a host of humanitarian efforts, and I just authorized an additional $15 million that will be provided to aid organizations that are already on the ground.  And we've been coordinating with the United Nations, which now has a number of personnel on the ground as well, to make sure that people are getting the help they need and we are in a position to respond to any additional emergencies that may arise out of the situation there.

But the bottom line is I think Australia and the United States stand shoulder to shoulder in sending a clear message that we stand for democracy, we stand for an observance of human rights, and that we send a very clear message to the Libyan people that we will stand with them in the face of unwarranted violence and the continuing suppression of democratic ideals that we've seen there.

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