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Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 03/18/2011

Obama consults with congressional leaders on Libya

Updated, 2:15 p.m.

President Obama held a closed-door consultation with congressional leaders on the crisis in Libya on Friday afternoon, hours after a cease-fire was declared and one day after the United Nations Security Council authorized a no-fly zone and “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in the country.

The meeting convened 12:30 p.m. in the Situation Room and ended shortly before 2 p.m. A Senate leadership aide said that the meeting brought together leaders from both parties and both chambers.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attended in person; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is currently leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to Italy, were among those attending by phone.

Obama is slated to deliver a statement on Libya at 2 p.m. Friday. He is scheduled to leave later in the day on a trip to Central and South America.

Pelosi so far has been the only congressional leader to issue a statement on Thursday’s Security Council resolution. On Friday morning, she said in a statement that the Security Council and the Arab League, which last week endorsed a no-fly zone, have “sent a clear signal” to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s regime: “the violence against your own citizens must end and the Libyan people must be free to choose their own destiny, free from intimidation.”

“Hopefully, [Gaddafi] understands the seriousness of the United Nations Security Council Resolution and the resolve that goes with it,” Pelosi added. “We will continue to monitor the situation in Libya closely.”

Reid said ahead of Thursday’s Security Council vote that he supported the resolution and was “very impressed” with the Arab League’s no-fly zone endorsement.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an outspoken Gaddafi critic who authored last week’s Senate resolution calling on the Libyan leader to step down, on Friday called for an immediate no-fly zone in coordination with European and/or NATO forces.

“As [Gaddafi’s] air strikes increase so will the human suffering,” Menendez said in a statement. “Now is the time to implement a no-fly zone, supported by our allies in the international community, to demonstrate our support for the Libyan people who are struggling to free themselves from decades of oppression. The strength of our commitment to democratic reform and to humanitarian policies is being tested. We have an opportunity to address the growing humanitarian crisis and to support the Libyan people in their quest for freedom. Now is our opportunity. Now is the time to step forward.”

Here is the full list of participants in Obama’s meeting:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.)

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.)

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)

Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.)

Staff writer Perry Bacon Jr. also contributed to this story.

By  |  02:15 PM ET, 03/18/2011

 
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