Washington: Addressing a joint press conference on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down.

“The chancellor and I have been clear - Gaddafi must step down and hand power to the Libyan people. And the pressure will only continue to increase until he does,” Obama said at a joint press conference.

Germany is not taking part in the NATO strikes on Libya, but in a move to placate its allies, Berlin sent 300 more soldiers to Afghanistan to operate NATO surveillance planes so as to ease the strain on countries involved in Libyan operations.

“I'd note that Germany's deployment of additional resources and personnel to Afghanistan has allowed other NATO allies to increase their support for the mission to protect the Libyan people,” Obama said.  Merkel said that the UN resolution still applies.

“Gaddafi needs to step down and he will step down. I'm convinced of that, because we have made great progress,” she said.

(Agencies)