WASHINGTON — President Obama called again on Thursday for the immediate resignation of the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, and said he had authorized American military airlifts to help transport refugees fleeing from Libya back to their home countries in the region.
“The U.S. and the entire world continues to be outraged by the appalling violence against the Libyan people,” Mr. Obama said after a White House meeting with President Felipe Calderón of Mexico. “Muammar el-Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.”
Mr. Obama said he had directed the Pentagon to prepare for a full range of possible military options in connection with the crisis in Libya. Asked about whether the United States would support sending warplanes over the country to keep the Libyan air force from attacking rebels, creating what is known as a no-flight zone, the president said that was one of the options being considered.
Among America’s NATO allies, France and Britain expressed some support for the idea on Wednesday, while Germany said it was opposed.
Mr. Obama said that in addition to sending military aircraft to ferry Egyptians who have fled to Tunisia to get home, he had authorized the Agency for International Development, an arm of the State Department, to charter civilian aircraft to help refugees return to other countries.