U.S. Calls Violence Against Libyan Civilians ‘Appalling’

Tuesday, 22 Feb 2011 12:14 PM

(Updates with remarks by Carney, Kerry statement beginning in second paragraph. See {EXTRA } for more news on regional unrest.)

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s spokesman called the violence by government forces against Libyan citizens “appalling” and said the U.S. is closely monitoring the impact of the unrest on oil prices.

“We offer our condolences to the families of the victims in Libya of this appalling violence,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One. “We call on the governments in the region to listen to and respect the wishes and aspirations of their people” for reform.

Carney said that while the administration is watching the effect on the price of crude oil from the turmoil in Libya, which has the largest reserves in Africa, he “would not speculate on where oil prices will go in the future.”

Oil in New York surged to a two-year high on concern that the intensifying violence in Libya may disrupt oil production there. Crude for March delivery rose as much as 9.6 percent to $94.49 a barrel and traded 5.8 percent higher at 10:10 a.m. in New York.

The U.S. is working with other nations at the United Nations on a response to attacks on anti-government protesters by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Carney said. The Security Council is meeting today to discuss the situation.

‘One Voice’

The U.S. wants to make sure “that the international community speaks with one voice in condemning the violence,” Carney said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to address the violence in Libya at about 2:30 p.m. Washington time, Carney said.

In Washington, Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the administration to consider reimposing sanctions on Libya that were lifted under former President George W. Bush. He also urged U.S. and international oil companies to cease operations there.

Kerry said in a statement that the UN Security Council should “condemn the violence and explore temporary sanctions, including an arms embargo and protection for Libyan civilian centers.”

The Massachusetts Democrat also called on the UN to “immediately remove Libya from the Human Rights Commission, appoint a special rapporteur on human rights conditions in Libya, and authorize the distribution of emergency humanitarian supplies.”

Carney said the administration was “looking at” Kerry’s call to consider sanctions “but right now we’re focused on ending the bloodshed” in Libya.

Kerry was among the first prominent U.S. officials to call for Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak to leave office earlier this month as demonstrations erupted there.

--With assistance from Roger Runningen and Nicholas Johnston in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Mark McQuillan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Cleveland at kandersen7@bloomberg.net; Indira Lakshmanan in Washington at ilakshmanan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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