- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2011

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday that the international community needs to act immediately to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, stressing that “time is running out” for Libyan freedom fighters.

“The international community cannot simply watch from the sidelines as this quest for democracy is met with raw violence,” Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, said in a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Mr. Kerry said that the Arab League’s call for a U.N.-imposed no-fly zone “is an unprecedented signal that the rules of impunity for autocratic leaders no longer stand. Time is running out, however, for the Libyan people.”

Asked if he agrees with Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, that the United States should arm the rebels directly, Mr. Kerry said that “all options have to be considered.”

Mr. Kerry pushed back against critics who have argued that the United States should be wary of assisting rebels it does not know, saying that “we didn’t know who our people in Eastern Europe were either” and that the United States knows the key actors in Libya.

Mr. Kerry said he would meet with Pentagon officials on Thursday to assess various options on Libya. He said he would be joined by Sens. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, and John McCain, Arizona Republican — the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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