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article imageHillary Clinton on secret visit to Libya

By JohnThomas Didymus     Oct 18, 2011 in World
Tripoli - The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Libya on Tuesday afternoon. The visit lasted only a few hours and was part of ongoing efforts to forge close ties between the new government of Libya and the U.S.
The visit, according to ABC News, makes Clinton the first cabinet-level U.S. official to visit Libya since March when NATO air-strikes began.
Hillary Clinton is visiting Libya weeks after British Prime Minister David Cameron, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, visited the country to show support for its new government.
Clinton's visit, in the same manner as visits by the British Prime Minister and French President, was secret. Reports say the secrecy was due to concerns over security.
The U.S. Secretary of State arrived in Tripoli on a military C17 cargo plane armed with defenses against surface-to-air missiles, the ABC News report said. The precaution was due to U.S. government concern about shoulder launched missiles which it fears might have fallen into the hands of terrorists and could be used against commercial flights. The U.S. is helping the Libyan government in the search for, and destruction of the missiles, some of which were destroyed in NATO air-strikes. It is believed that some of the missiles might have reached Gaza.
During her visit, Clinton held talks with Chairman of the interim government Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, and Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni. Calgary Sun reports that a senior U.S. official who traveled with Clinton said,
“The important thing is to be able to show the Libyan people that there is momentum...We’re pushing the (NTC) to be able to show the Libyan people that they’re serious in their commitments to transition, that they’re serious in their commitments to rule of law, that they’re serious about getting to those elections.”
Clinton also held a meeting with women, youths and leaders of civil society in Tripoli.
Clinton's visit comes while fighting continued around city of Sirte, Gaddafi's native town and birth place, after the National Transition Council (NTC) said it had taken control of the town.
Hillary Clinton flew into Tripoli from Malta. During her visit to Malta, she held a meeting with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and thanked him for providing a base for humanitarian services during the Libyan crisis.
Politico.com reports that, in September, Republican senators John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Mark Kirk visited Libya and met with leaders of the new interim government. Senator McCain said about the visit,
“They [the transitional council] do have significant challenges...a lot of the militias that are taking part in the fighting against Qadhafi forces are still not under their control. There are some Islamic elements that, obviously, would like to take over this revolution, which was not a religious one...It’s pretty clear that they’ve got a lot of work to do to unite the country."
Libya's interim National Transition Council is expected to hold election as soon as it is possible.
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