By Sam Youngman - 02/28/11 09:43 PM EST
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi sounds “delusional” as he tries to cling to power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.
Ambassador Susan Rice made the statement following a White House meeting with President Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as the United States increased pressure on the Libyan leader to give up power.
Rice made clear that the United States and the international community see one choice for Gadhafi and his aides: step down from power or face significant consequences.
“There is no escaping that critical choice,” Rice said.
Rice offered some of the toughest rhetoric yet on Monday toward Ghadafi, blasting his denials of atrocities against his own citizens as “frankly, delusional.”
“It only underscores how unfit he is to lead, and how disconnected he is from reality,” Rice said.
Rice praised the U.N. Security Council for the unanimous resolution it passed over the weekend that called for the freezing of Libyan government assets and military aid to the country. It also referred all claims of abuse of the Libyan people directly to the UN International Court.
Rice and White House press secretary Jay Carney noted repeatedly that while the U.S. is gearing up for a sizable humanitarian aid effort, all options including military intervention are on the table.
Amid reports of fighting in two Libyan cities held by rebels, Carney urged those still supporting Gadhafi to change sides.
“If you are in the Libyan government, you have to think very, very hard about whose side you're on,” he said.
The U.S. has intensified its rhetoric since the evacuation last week of U.S. citizens and embassy staff, with Obama over the weekend saying it is time for Gadhafi to go.