U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Libya's southern neighbor Chad supports efforts to drive Moammar Gadhafi from power. She met with Chad's foreign minister at a trade conference in Zambia, where they also discussed ongoing violence in southern Sudan.
Clinton said Chadian President Idriss Deby's government supports Gadhafi opponents who are fighting to topple the Libyan leader.
"The Chadian government does not support Gadhafi," she said. "They have made that very clear. They want to see a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We are very supportive of their efforts to reach out to the Transitional National Council, which they have been doing in a more sustained way in recent days.”
Clinton met with Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki in Zambia at a meeting on U.S. trade preferences. She said the government in N'Djamena is an important part of the international coalition bringing pressure on the Libyan leader to step down.
"They are cautious about the outcome and wanting to see it move toward a point of resolution, and we think again they can be valuable in sending a clear message that Gadhafi must go,” said Clinton.
Libya and Chad have had a long and often violent relationship with Gadhafi forces, which have launched four separate invasions of Chad between 1978 and 1987. The Libyan leader has generally supported President Deby, though, especially in his fight against Chadian rebels based in Sudan.
Throughout the crisis in Libya, there have been unconfirmed reports that Gadhafi has recruited Chadian forces to help fight his opponents.
Secretary Clinton came to Zambia from a meeting in the United Arab Emirates where the 22-member Libya Contact Group pledged more than $1 billion to help Libya's opposition council. Secretary Clinton told the conference that Gadhafi's “days are numbered,” but the United States offered no direct aid to the rebels, promising instead an additional $26.5 million in humanitarian relief to all Libyans.
During her talks with the Chadian foreign minister, Clinton said they also discussed ongoing violence in Sudan where the mainly-Christian south has voted to secede from the mostly-Muslim north.
Faki has met with both sides. And Secretary Clinton says the Obama administration appreciates Chad's mediation.
"We are quite concerned at the outbreak of violence along the border, not just in Abyei, but other places in Sudan," said Clinton. "And we are conscious that the clock is ticking on southern Sudan's independence.”
The U.N. Security Council has condemned Khartoum's takeover of the disputed border region of Abyei ahead of southern Sudan's independence next month. The U.N. refugee agency says that as many as 100,000 civilians have now fled Abyei.
There also is fighting in Southern Kordofan where Amnesty International says plainclothes Sudanese security forces in the besieged towns of Kadugli and Dilling are killing people suspected of supporting the Sudan People's Liberation Army of the south.