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Obama won't rule out giving arms to Libyan opposition

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, President Obama didn't rule out the U.S. would give arms to the Libyan opposition.

"I'm not ruling it out," the president said. "But I'm also not ruling it in. We're still making an assessment partly about what Khaddafy's forces are going to be doing. Keep in mind, we've been at this now for nine days. And the degree to which we've degraded Khadaffy's forces in those nine days has been significant."

The president continued, "Operations to protect civilians continue to take out Khadaffy's forces, his tanks, his artillery on the ground, and that will continue for some time. And so one of the questions that we want to answer is: Do we start getting to a stage where Khadaffy's forces are sufficiently degraded, where it may not be necessary to arm opposition groups? But we're not taking anything off the table at this point."

Also in the interview, Obama commented on the end game in Libya: "What we've also done is put Khaddafy back on his heels -- at this point. In addition to maintaining a no-fly zone, protecting civilian populations, we also have political tools, diplomatic tools, sanctions, freezing his assets, all of which continue to tighten the noose. And so our expectation is that as we continue to apply steady pressure, not only militarily but also through these other means, that Khaddafy will ultimately step down."

And he discussed if the U.S. intervention in Libya applies to other countries as well. "I think it's important not to take this particular situation and then try to project some sort of Obama Doctrine that we're going to apply in a cookie-cutter fashion across the board. Each country in this region is different. Our principles remain the same. We want to make sure that governments are not attacking their own citizens. We believe in core, fundamental human rights, like freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We want governments that are responsive to their people. And so we'll use all our tools to try to accomplish that. But Libya was a unique situation where a limited military intervention that had a strong international mandate and strong international participation could make the difference -- life or death difference -- for a lot of people."