Obama set to brief congressional leaders on Libya situation

President Obama will brief members of Congress on Friday afternoon on the situation in Libya just before he addresses the nation.

The White House announced Friday that Obama has invited a bipartisan group of lawmakers to the Situation Room to consult on Libya. Obama is scheduled to deliver a statement to the public at 2 p.m.

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The meeting follows the United Nations decision Thursday to impose a no-fly zone and other military measures aimed at stopping Col. Moammar Gadhafi from violently quashing a rebellion against his leadership.

Among those expected to participate are: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
 
Also scheduled to attend are Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.).

Some lawmakers have already left Washington and will participate in the briefing by phone.

A White House official said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had been invited but could not participate. The official did not know if Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had been invited.

Gadhafi’s forces have retaken towns that fell to rebels over the past week, and the Libyan dictator on Thursday warned of an assault on the city of Benghazi, the last stronghold of his opponents.

On Friday, in response to the UN resolution, Gadhafi reportedly ordered a ceasefire in Libya, one of the conditions of the resolution.

But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday the U.S. wanted more than just promises by the Libyan government that it would hold a ceasefire.

“We are going to be not responsive or impressed by words, we would have to see actions on the ground and that is not yet at all clear,” Clinton said. “We will continue to work with our partners in the international community to press Gadhafi to leave and to support the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people.”

On Thursday, Gadhafi threatened to "cleanse" Benghazi.

Clinton said the U.N.’s passage of the resolution is just one step the international community is taking to remove Gadhafi from power and stop violence in the Libya.

“While this resolution is an important step, it is only that, an important step,” Clinton said.

She added that the top priority for the international community was to impose an immediate ceasefire and stop Gadhafi's military forces from killing Libyan civilians.

“Again, I want to take this one step at a time. We don't know what the final outcome will be,” Clinton said. “The first and overwhelmingly urgent outcome is to end the violence.”

The next step, Clinton said, was to “operationalize” the no-fly zone resolution.

The measure approved by the U.N. allows “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians. This could include setting up a no-fly zone over Libya’s skies, but could also include air strikes on Libyan forces threatening Benghazi.

NATO may be getting involved.

Adm. James Stavridis, U.S. European Command chief and NATO's supreme allied commander, tweeted Friday: "On #Libya -- we are in detailed planning for a wide variety of contingencies from #NATO."

Stavridis is considered a contender to replace current Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen when his term expires this Fall.

Separately, in Yemen, 30 protesters against that country's government were reportedly killed by security forces and government loyalists, which drew condemnation from Obama. He called on Yemen's president to allow peaceful demonstrations.

"It is more important than ever for all sides to participate in an open and transparent process that addresses the legitimate concerns of the Yemeni people, and provides a peaceful, orderly and democratic path to a stronger and more prosperous nation," the president said in a statement.

John T. Bennett contributed.

This post was last updated at 1:39 p.m.