The United States is pressing its European allies to set tough sanctions on the Libyan government, to turn up the heat on Moammar Qaddafi and convince his remaining loyalists to abandon the regime, U.S. officials said. The Obama administration also declared it stood ready to aid Libyans seeking to oust their longtime leader.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will make the administration’s case for stronger action to foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Italy when she holds a series of high-level talks Monday in this Swiss city.

Clinton will also look to coordinate future U.S. sanctions on Qaddafi’s government with senior officials from Russia, Australia and the European Union so that the international community presents unified opposition to the attacks that have killed hundreds of people in the North African country, senior administration officials said Sunday.

They spoke after Clinton said the U.S. could offer “any type of assistance” to anti-Qaddafi Libyans organizing in the east of the country, though she made no mention of any U.S. military help to a provisional government that is organizing or of a no-fly zone over the country — as called for by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent.

“We want him to leave and we want him to end his regime and call off the mercenaries and those troops that remain loyal to him,” Clinton told reporters a day after President Barack Obama branded Qaddafi an illegitimate ruler who must leave power immediately. “How he manages that is obviously up to him and to his family.”

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