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February 28th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

World leaders step up pressure on Gadhafi

Alan Silverleib
CNN

Washington (CNN) - The United States has frozen at least $30 billion in Libyan government assets, a U.S. Treasury official announced Monday - one of a series of steps being taken by international leaders designed to break strongman Moammar Gadhafi's grip on power.

The $30 billion is the largest amount ever blocked under any sanctions program, according to David Cohen, the acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

American officials slapped the sanctions on Libya last Friday.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, met Monday afternoon with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss a variety of measures under consideration.

All options are still on the table, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Gadhafi and those around him must be held accountable (for any actions) which violate international legal obligations and common decency," she said. "Through their actions, they have lost the legitimacy to govern."

Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called Gadhafi "delusional, "unfit to lead," and "disconnected ... from reality" while speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday.

The imposition of a no-fly zone over certain portions of the increasingly chaotic country is among the courses of action being contemplated, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

Carney indicated that exile is "certainly one option" for the Libyan leader. He also said that American officials are "actively reaching out" to Libyan opponents of the ruling regime, Carney said.

But any speculation on U.S. assistance to the Libyan rebels is premature, Rice later added. "It's unclear at this point who will emerge as the critical opposition element," she said. "We await to see how the opposition will coalesce."

Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said the U.S. military is moving Navy ships closer to Libya.

Two U.S. Navy warships - the carrier USS Enterprise and the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge - are currently in the Red Sea and available to assist, U.S. military officials told CNN.

Lapan refused to indicate whether any American ground forces have been put on a heightened state of alert.

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