WASHINGTON — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations pushed back Monday against Moammar Gadhafi's assertions that he had not used force against his own people, calling the Libyan leader "delusional."
Speaking at the White House, Ambassador Susan Rice said the fact that Gadhafi could make such comments while he "slaughters" his own people shows how disconnected the longtime leader is from reality. Gadhafi denied using force against protesters during an interview Monday with ABC News. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the Middle East protests.]
Rice applauded steps taken by the United Nations as well as the U.S. government and European Union to impose sanctions on Libya in an attempt to isolate the regime and force Gadhafi to step down.
"These sanctions and accountability mechanisms should make all members of the Libyan regime think about the choice they have before them: Violate human rights and be held accountable, or stop the violence and respects the Libyan people's call for change," Rice said. "There's no escaping that critical choice." [Take the U.S. News poll: Is Obama handling the Libya crisis the right way?]
The U.S. announced sanctions on Libya on Friday and temporarily shuttered its embassy in Tripoli. On Saturday, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose an arms embargo on Libya, and backed a travel ban on the Gadhafi family and close associates, including leaders of the revolutionary committees accused of much of the violence.
Rice spoke following a White House meeting between President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The White House said the U.S. was actively reaching out to elements of the opposition in Libya. But Rice said until the opposition movement there becomes more organized, it was premature to discuss offering military assistance.