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Clinton: Qaddafi must pull back forces, step down

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday called on Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to pull back his forces from the rebel-controlled eastern part of the country in the wake of the announcement of a cease-fire by the Libyan government.

Clinton expressed skepticism about the ceasefire announcement, saying she had seen "press reports" announcing the cease-fire and stressing that the situation remains "fluid and dynamic." She said the international community is not impressed by words.

"We would have to see actions on the ground, and that is not yet at all clear," she said.

The Libyan ceasefire announcement followed a United Nations Security Council vote Thursday to authorize "all necessary measures" to keep Qaddafi's government from attacking the Libyan people, including the creation of a no-fly zone. Clinton said Friday that the vote "sent a strong message that needs to be heeded."

Qaddafi's actions, she said, "has left us with no other choice but to pursue this course of action."

Clinton was pressed on whether the United States would accept a resolution that involves Qaddafi staying in power. After first saying the U.S. will continue "to press Qaddafi to leave," she strengthened her rhetoric even as she insisted that the situation must be dealt with one step at a time.

The United States believes the "final result of any negotiations would have to be the decision by Colonial Qaddafi to leave," she said. Clinton added, however, that "the first and overwhelmingly urgent action is to end the violence."

Clinton did not specify when the international community might begin military action against Libya or what that action could be.

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