News / Africa

Panetta Offers US Support for Libya's Transition to Democratic Rule

U.S. Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, center, is greeted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, right, before the start of their meeting in Ankara, Turkey,  Dec., 16, 2011.
U.S. Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, center, is greeted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, right, before the start of their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Dec., 16, 2011.
Luis Ramirez

The U.S. defense secretary heads to Libya on Saturday, becoming the first American defense chief to visit the country. Leon Panetta plans to offer Libya's interim leaders Washington's support for their efforts to transition the country to democratic rule. Our correspondent is traveling with the defense secretary and has this report from Ankara.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visits Libya months after a popular rebellion assisted by the U.S. and NATO drove out longtime ruler Muammar Qadhafi. He says he is going to get a first-hand look at the situation after the revolution and pay tribute to those who carried it out.

Libya's new leaders have been working to bring together factions and forge institutions, including an army, but that effort is proving difficult.

A recent gunbattle between army troops and members of a militia near the Tripoli airport and other violence raised questions of whether the country is able to transition to a stable democracy any time soon.

On the eve of his visit to Tripoli, Panetta told reporters in the Turkish capital he has confidence that transition will happen.

"There are going to be challenges here," said Panetta. "There are going to be difficulties, but I think any country like Libya that was able to do what they did and show the courage that they did in making the changes that took place there, I'm confident that ultimately they're going to be able to succeed in putting a democracy together."

The defense chief said Washington is ready to offer assistance to Libya's new leaders, but only if and when they request it. He cautioned against giving the appearance that the United States is trying to dictate how Libya should set up its new government.   

"The last thing you want to do is to try to impose something on a country that has just gone through what the Libyans have gone through," he said. "They have earned the right to try to determine their future.”

Panetta said a transition will take time.

"They are working through some very difficult issues to try to bring that country together. It's not going to be easy," he said. "This is tough. This is not a country that has a tradition of democratic institutions and representative government. This is going to take some work but the indications I have that they are making progress trying to bring the tribes together, trying to bring the country together in order to establish the institutions that must be put in place so that the Libyan people will have the opportunity to have elections, to have representative government. "  

Panetta's stop in Tripoli comes after he briefly stopped Baghdad briefly this week to mark the formal end to the U.S. war in Iraq.  He also visited Afghanistan, where he said the U.S. Is winning the war on extremists.   

On Friday, Panetta met with Turkish officials and discussed the need for the international community to pressure Syria's leadership to - in his words - “do the right thing” by allowing democratic change and an end to human rights abuses.

He also praised Turkey - a member of NATO - for allowing the installation of a NATO missile defense radar system on its territory.  The system, designed by the U.S., is part of a shield to guard NATO countries against a missile attack from Iran.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid