Obama branded Libya's orders to shoot protesters as "outrageous" and called on the world to speak as one [Reuters]

Barack Obama, the US president, has said the violent crackdown in Libya violated international norms and that he had ordered his national security team to prepare the full range of options for dealing with the crisis.

"I have also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we may have to respond to this crisis," Obama said in his first televised comments on the Libya crisis on Wednesday.

The US president said he would send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Geneva for a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council at the weekend and for talks with allied foreign ministers.

The Obama administration said earlier that it was looking at imposing sanctions on Libya to punish it for a violent crackdown on protesters seeking ouster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The State Department said freezing Libyan assets, including those belonging to Gaddafi, were among the options being considered, and some US legislators urged direct action such as imposing no-fly zones.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said that the immediate priority of the US administration was the safe evacuation of Americans from Libya.

'Outrageous violence'

"It is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice," Obama told reporters.

The US president branded Libya's crackdown and orders to shoot protestors as "outrageous" and called on the world to speak as one to hold the government accountable.

"These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency. This violence must stop."

Obama urged an end to attacks on peaceful protesters but stopped short of calling for Gaddafi to step down as ruler of the oil-producing North African nation and did not lay out any specific measures under consideration against the Libyan government.

Obama said Washington was coordinating further steps with allies and the international community.

Obama has faced criticism in some quarters for not speaking out sooner, but US officials say they have tempered their response to ensure Americans in Libya were safely evacuated and out of harm's way.

But US options to influence events in Libya are limited, unlike in Egypt and Bahrain where Washington was able to bring pressure to bear as a long-time ally and benefactor.

Source: Agencies