Wednesday, 19 October 2011

"This is Libya's moment. This is Libya's victory."

Clinton Hails New Libyan Leaders, Vows Support
Local Editor
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed Libyan forces who ousted Moamer Gaddafi and vowed support for a democratic transition, on a surprise visit to Tripoli on Tuesday.

She flew in via Malta as Libya's new rulers try to crush the last pockets of resistance by fighters loyal to Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte.

"This is Libya's moment. This is Libya's victory. The future belongs to you," she said, eight months after Libyans rose up against the four-decade rule of Gaddafi, sparking a conflict that has killed thousands.
Addressing National Transition Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil and interim premier Mahmud Jibril, she said: "In crowded squares and mountain passes, you stood up against a dictator's aggression and claimed the rights and dignity of a free people ...

Clinton, asked if Washington would cooperate with Libyan Islamists, said: "We will support a process of democratization that respects the rule of law, that respects the rights of minority and women" and allows for a free media."

She became the first US cabinet official to visit Libya since September 2008, when her predecessor Condoleezza Rice met Gaddafi in what was a new stage in Washington's reconciliation with a former enemy state.

"Even as the NATO mission continues to protect civilians, we are also responding to Libyan concerns about terrorism and loose weapons."

She said Washington already has more than a dozen expert advisers on the ground, helping Libya secure and destroy dangerous stockpiles of weapons and that the administration is working with Congress to provide $40 million to support that effort.

Clinton's visit follows trips by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and foreign ministers from Britain, Italy, and Canada.

Speaking on the flight from Washington, a senior US State Department official said the United States aimed to forge new civilian ties with the Libyan people.

More broadly, he said, the US wants to talk about "how to integrate Libya fully into the 21st century world economy in transparent ways where Libya's oil wealth is used for the benefit of all of Libya's citizens."

The official expressed hope the NTC leadership would follow through on its efforts to establish a centralized security system but admitted that not all militia leaders were yet participating and called it a "challenging process."

The official acknowledged concerns about civil war but said the tide was turning against Gaddafi.
Clinton also visited the Tripoli Medical Centre, where she chatted with four war wounded, praising their courage and skills.

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