CNN Wire Staff
Washington (CNN) - The U.S. government announced Friday that it will impose sanctions against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi - part of a series of measures designed to isolate the Libyan regime and loosen the dictator's grip on power.
The American embassy in Libya suspended operations for security reasons, though State Department officials stressed that diplomatic ties were not suspended and channels for discussion remained open.
"The flag is still flying. The embassy is not closed. Operations are suspended. Relations are not broken," Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy told reporters.
State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Janet Sanderson reiterated at the same briefing that Libya's Embassy in Washington is still "up and running," and the department has not been informed of any change in the status of Libya's ambassador to the United States.
"We still continue to reach out to the Libyans where appropriate, both directly and through third parties," Sanderson said.
Kennedy said all American official employees were withdrawn from the embassy Friday, and only Libyan employees are "still on the payroll' and still working there. These remaining employees are not authorized to conduct any U.S. government business, he said.
Local and national security guards remain at the embassy, Kennedy said, but he would not discuss what measures if any are being taken to secure documents and the like inside the embassy.
"But I can assure you that there is nothing left behind that could be compromised," he said.
American operations at the embassy will resume when the security situation permits it, Kennedy said.
In addition to pushing both unilateral and multilateral sanctions, Washington will use the "full extent" of its intelligence capabilities to monitor Gadhafi's regime and gather evidence of atrocities committed against the Libyan people, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Steps were also taken to ensure that top Gadhafi officials don't steal Libyan financial assets in what may be their final days in power. The Treasury Department advised banks to monitor accounts held by the regime's key political figures and to report financial transactions "that could potentially represent misappropriated or diverted state assets," according to a government statement.
Gadhafi's "legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes" of the Libyan people, Carney told reporters. "The status quo is neither tenable nor acceptable."
The point of U.S. action - particularly the sanctions - is to "make it clear that the regime has to stop its abuses" and end the bloodshed, Carney said. Reports from Libya suggest that possibly hundreds of protesters have been killed.
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