By Donovan Slack, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON -- Senator John F. Kerry, who has been pushing in recent weeks for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya, issued a statement this afternoon supporting President Obama's declaration that he will order the use of military force if Libyan leader Moammar Kahdafi does not comply with a United Nations resolution directing him to stop military operations against the Libyan people.
“President Obama’s stern ultimatum to Kahdafi is the right message," Kerry said. "There must be a full cessation of hostilities immediately."
Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated earlier statements -- some of which were echoed by the president today -- that Kahdafi "has lost all legitimacy and determined international pressure will remain imperative to ensure that the will of the Libyan people prevails."
The senior senator from Massachusetts has been pushing for action in Libya since Feb. 22, after Kahdafi ordered attacks on Libyans who were protesting his regime.
The president announced today that the United States and its allies will not sit idly by as the Libyan leader uses violent force to suppress protests and re-take territory now in control of the opposition, including the major city of Benghazi, which has a population of 700,000 people.
Obama, saying the resolution passed yesterday by the UN Security Council lays out clear demands, ordered Kahdafi not to advance troops into Benghazi, to pull them back from other areas, allow humanitarian supplies to reach the Libyan people and restore gas and electric service throughout the country.
“Now once more, Moammar Kahdafi has a choice,” Obama said in brief remarks at the White House.
Obama said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet in Paris with officials from Britain, France and other allies tomorrow to discuss what actions the coalition will take. He said the goal of any action would be to secure the lives of civilians and not to topple Kahdafi's regime, which he said would be up to the people of Libya. The president added that he would not order any ground troops into the country, so military actions likely would be confined to air strikes.
“Our goal is focused, our cause is just and our coalition is strong,” Obama said.
Kerry credited the president this afternoon with "deft" diplomacy.
"The Obama administration’s deft diplomatic efforts that built a strong international coalition to enforce tough measures against Kahdafi have been essential," Kerry said. .
Donovan Slack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @DonovanSlack.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.