Posted by: maboulette | October 18, 2011

CLINTON IN LIBYA: UNANNOUNCED VISIT

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar...

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From Elise Labott, CNN  

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Tripoli on Tuesday, making her the first Cabinet-level American official to visit Libya since the ouster of longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

Clinton landed under tight security in a country where forces loyal to the transitional government are still battling Gadhafi loyalists. She was slated to meet with officials of the National Transitional Council and planned to offer U.S. medical assistance for those wounded in the fighting, according to a senior State Department official traveling with the secretary.

NTC fighters toppled Gadhafi’s nearly 42-year-old government in August after six months of fighting. Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and his brother-in-law and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi are wanted on war crimes charges and remain fugitives.

“There are three main purposes to the secretary’s visit,” a senior State Department official said in a briefing to reporters Monday.

“First is simply to offer on behalf for the United States, on behalf of the American people and government, our congratulations, our best wishes to the Libyan people for what, through great hardship, sacrifice, and courage, they have achieved in opening the door to a more promising future for Libya after 42 years of the Gadhafi dictatorship.”

Clinton also will be focused on the “whole range of transition-related issues,” including governance, “justice and accountability,” and economic issues, the official said. She’ll also be talking about an “expanded deeper partnership” and several initiatives. They include treatment of those wounded in war and getting parts for medical equipment.

The official said Clinton and her counterpart will be announcing that the Fulbright Program, an educational exchange, and English Access, an English language program, will be restarted. They’ll be talking about a new program with Oberlin College in Ohio and archeologists in Libya to map, document and do risk assessments of archelogical sites in eastern Libya.

“We also want to be talking to the Libyans 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 said.

In discussing economic diversification, the official mentioned “privatizing some of the state monopolies, because much of the economy is state-owned” the “type of business and language skills” that could help build an entrepreneurial class.

“The NTC sees privatization as being one of the engines to diversification and growth. Now, many of these decisions have to wait a more permanent governing structure. The NTC is being very careful about not taking significant decisions on dismantling this or dismantling that until they are able to assure themselves of a more popular base. They’ve very mindful of the fact that that ‘T’ in NTC stands for transition.”

The official said conventional and nonconventional weaponry in Libya is fully secured and accounted for.

“The secretary will be talking to Libyan officials about the fact that we will be increasing our assistance on the MANPADS destruction to nearly $40 million …,” the official said. The reference is to man-portable air-defense systems, which are shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

Asked about reconciliation, the official said the NTC has remarked that it would work with people who don’t have “blood on their hands” and try to be inclusive.

“It has to be able to show that it has political credibility, that it’s able to also have places for those who actually fought for the liberation of Libya in the governing structures,” the official said.

Gadhafi’s whereabouts are unknown and the official acknowledged the existence of pro-Gadhafi enclaves.

“He has people, henchman, loyalists, sons, here and there who still have circles around them. I don’t think there’s any coordination going on between them. I think you’re having pockets of people who are trying to stop the flow of history ahead,” the official said.

“Yes, he’s a nuisance. Yes, he’s still providing problems here and there. But the Libyans are not waiting to build a better future for themselves, for their children, for their country.”


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