The U.S. will reopen its embassy in Tripoli this week and will continue to support Libya in the transition from Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, President Barack Obama said.
“Our ambassador is on his way back to Tripoli, and this week, the American flag that was lowered before our embassy was attacked will be raised again, over a reopened American embassy,” Obama said at a New York meeting of nations that supported the NATO-backed campaign in Libya.
“This is how the international community should work in the 21st century -- more nations bearing the responsibility and costs of meeting global challenges,” said Obama, who is in New York for a meeting of the UN General Assembly. “In fact, this is the very purpose of this United Nations.”
Earlier today, Obama met with Libyan Transitional National Council Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil.
The president called for patience as Libya makes the transition to democracy.
“After decades of iron rule by one man, it will take time to build the institutions needed for a democratic Libya,” he said.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led military campaign to protect civilians will continue “so long as the Libyan people are being threatened,” Obama said. “Along with our partners, the United States will do our part to help the hungry and the wounded.”
‘Spirit of Reconciliation’
Obama called for a “spirit of reconciliation, not reprisals and violence” during the transition to democracy in Libya.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the group that the international community must cooperate to “consolidate peace and democracy” in Libya and to help the political and economic development of the country. “The challenges are large,” Ban said. “The first priority must be peace and security.”
Jalil said opposition forces “would not have been able to achieve victory” over Qaddafi’s military without international support. Noting that Qaddafi is still at large, the transitional council leader said “the road before us is still long and there are many challenges.”
Jalil pledged respect for human rights and “a just trial” for former government officials who have been arrested. The new government seeks to promote “forgiveness, tolerance and co- existence,” Jalil said.
White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said yesterday that Obama’s back-to-back Libya meetings would focus on the “international support of post-Qaddafi Libya” and the “extraordinary achievement by the UN-led process that the U.S. has supported.”
The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, was based in Tripoli until December 2010. Cretz left the country after the release by WikiLeaks of diplomatic cables in which Qaddafi was described as a “mercurial” and “notoriously erratic” and a “hypochondriac.”
Obama used his speech to praise the international community for intervening in Libya while also insisting that the U.S. would not act in all foreign conflicts.
“Libya is a lesson in what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one,” he said.