Leaders of several global powers have emerged from a Group of Eight meeting in Deauville, France, with strong statements condemning the actions of Libya's embattled leader, Muammar Qaddafi, and signaling that international patience appears to be wearing thin.
U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that the UN resolution authorizing NATO air strikes to protect Libyan civilians cannot be fulfilled as long as Qaddafi remains in power.
Obama made the remark at a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy after the two met on the sidelines of the G8 summit.
"We agreed that we have made progress on our Libya campaign, but that meeting the UN mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Qaddafi remains in Libya directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people, and we are joined in resolve to finish the job," Obama said.
Sarkozy backed Obama's remarks, saying the two had agreed on Libya as well as the need to support Arab countries where there have been popular pro-democracy uprisings in recent months.
"We completely agree among ourselves on what lessons we draw from the Arab revolutions -- likewise on Libya, where we have the same analysis: Mr. Qaddafi must leave, and Libyans are entitled to a democratic future," Sarkozy said.
The two presidents made the remarks as NATO increases pressure on Qaddafi's regime, carrying out in recent days NATO's heaviest air strikes on Qaddafi's military compounds in Tripoli.
Later, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told a press conference that "the sooner the military operation ends, the better it will be for all who live in Libya," hinting a decision by Qaddafi to leave the country would pave the way for a cessation of hostilities.
Medvedev also said he was sending Mikhail Margelov, Russia's special representative for Africa, to Benghazi "immediately" to meet with Libyan rebel forces.
Russia has been offering to mediate an end to the fighting in Libya.
France -- and Britain, reportedly -- will deploy attack helicopters in Libya. Military analysts say the use of attack helicopters would make it easier to target Qaddafi if NATO decides to attack the Libyan ruler himself.
Meanwhile, the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt were expected to sign a multibillion-dollar partnership with G8 leaders gathered in Deauville. The European Union and Britain already have pledged substantial aid to Arab countries that make the transition to democracy. Sarkozy reportedly is pushing for more contributions.
$20 Billion Loans
Diplomats in Deauville said international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be asked to provide an additional $20 billion in loans over the 2011-13 period.
The "Deauville Partnership" plan was expected to make the aid contingent on countries in the Arab world implementing democratic reforms.
Reuters quoted a draft of a communique to be issued at the conclusion of the summit that said G8 leaders had agreed to extend the mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to support transition in "Arab Spring" countries.
Senior EBRD officials have told RFE/RL that the bank's support for Egypt and Tunisia would likely include loans as well as purchases of equity in privatized companies. But they say support needs to focus on training and education programs to make the labor force in those countries more attractive for international investors.
Obama and Sarkozy also singled out Egypt and Tunisia as two Arab uprising countries that need economic support to help foster democratic transition.
"We discussed the enormous opportunities as well as challenges that are presented by the Arab Spring, and shortly we'll be discussing in depth how we can fully support countries like Egypt and Tunisia, not only as they transition to democracy, but also ensuring that democratic transition is accompanied by economic growth, which can provide more opportunities for all the people, particularly the young people in the region," Obama said.
On May 26, the opening day of the two-day summit, the G8 condemned the violent crackdowns on antigovernment protesters in countries such as Syria.
Reports say the G8's draft communique threatened Syria with possible UN Security Council action over the government's violent crackdowns.
But it remained unclear whether Russia would back that language in the G8's final communique. Moscow has opposed sanctions and the use of force against its Soviet-era ally Syria and other bilateral partners. Moscow issued a statement ahead of this week's summit warning that the event should not be used as a platform for "instigating pressure and sanctions" against Arab regimes that are partners with Moscow.
Another topic being discussed at the summit is the question of who should be the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund -- a post left vacant by the departure of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a Frenchman who is charged with the attempted rape of a New York hotel maid.
Written by Ron Synovitz in Prague. With agency reports