Libya aim is to oust Gaddafi - US
Washington - After coming under pressure for not spelling out its war aims in Libya, US President Barack Obama's administration insisted on Monday the goal is to see Muammar Gaddafi removed from power.
"We're trying to convince Colonel Gaddafi and his regime, and his associates, that they need to step down from power," said state department spokesperson Mark Toner.
"That remains our ultimate goal here."
Obama said in the run-up to military action in Libya that Gaddafi had lost his legitimacy to govern and must go, but those calls were overtaken as the US forged a coalition to enforce a no-fly zone under a UN Security Council resolution.
UN Security Council resolution 1973 - the fruit of intense diplomacy to avoid Russian and Chinese vetoes while winning Arab support - allows for "all necessary means" to support the limited aim of protecting civilians.
Toner stressed "our immediate goal is the no-fly zone", but added: "We're going to, in the long term, to continue to apply pressure on him and his associates."
The United States is leading the military operations in Libya involving a wide coalition of partners, including the French and the British, but says it is eager to hand over command as soon as possible.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has voiced hope that more people will defect to the opposition from Gaddafi's regime, even if the UN resolution is to protect civilians and provide access for humanitarian relief.
But, she said, "certainly the conditions that will unfold as we begin to enforce this resolution will make a new environment in which people are going to act, including those around Colonel Gaddafi".