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News of Gadhafi's Death Met With Relief

President Obama speaks on the death of Moammar Gadhafi, Oct. 20, 2011.

President Obama speaks on the death of Moammar Gadhafi, Oct. 20, 2011.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi proves "definitively" that the four-decade Gadhafi regime has come to an end.

He spoke Thursday at the White House. He said a year ago the notion of a free Libya seemed impossible and congratulated the Libyan people for demanding their rights.

Mr. Obama said the Libyan people now have a great responsibility to build an "inclusive, tolerant, democratic" country. He called on Libyans to continue to work with the international community to secure dangerous materials and respect the rights of their countrymen.

The president warned that the road to full democracy will be "long and winding" and that there will be difficult days ahead. He said the United States is committed to the Libyan people.

U.S. Senator and former Republican party presidential candidate John McCain issued a statement Thursday, saying Gadhafi's death "marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution." He called on the U.S., its European allies and Arab partners to strengthen their support for the Libyan people.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Gadhafi's death "marks a historic transition for Libya." He also called on all combatants to lay down their arms, warning the country can only "realize the promise of the future by national unity and reconciliation."

European nations also hailed Gadhafi's fall.

Both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the death was a way to move forward toward a democratic Libya. Ms. Merkel also said Germany is "relieved and very happy."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reacted to reports of Gadhafi's death by saying that now, "the war is over."

European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso issued a joint statement. They said the reported death of the former Libyan leader "marks the end to an era of despotism and repression."

EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton called the fall of Sirte and Gadhafi's demise the end of an era, saying it "brings closure to a tragic period in the lives of so many Libyans."

Back in Washington, former U.S. envoy Marc Ginsberg said this is a "real time of healing" in Libya. He called the capture of Sirte and the killing of Gadhafi an NTC "victory" that is crucial for Libyans to believe their interim leaders are a "coherent governing authority."

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.