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Jeffrey Feltman in Tripoli, US Throws Weight Behind NTC Libyan Government

US throws weight behind NTC

Arab News, Sep 14, 2011 23:13


The United States gave Libya's new rulers a very visible show of support on Wednesday when a senior envoy visited the capital and praised their efforts to assert control of armed groups three weeks after Muammar Qaddafi was overthrown.

Washington has taken a back seat to France and Britain in NATO-led airstrikes that helped the ragtag rebel coalition take Tripoli last month. And, wary of a backlash after their military takeovers in Iraq and Afghanistan, US officials are at pains to avoid seeming to take control of oil-rich Libya.

But the visit of Jeffrey Feltman put an American accent firmly in the center of a Tripoli recovering from six months of civil war. The State Department's top Middle East diplomat assured interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil of continued NATO support.

Feltman also praised Abdel Jalil's National Transitional Council for progress toward bringing the army, police and a host of local and partisan militias under its control.

Feltman, an assistant secretary of state, said: "We remain encouraged by growing command and control over security and police forces. We understand that this is a difficult task.

Asked about the strength of religious groups in the rebel coalition which overthrew Qaddafi last month, he said: "We are not concerned that one group will be able to dominate the aftermath of what has been a shared struggle."

The African Union on the other hand pressed for an "inclusive government" in Libya, with the organization still refusing to recognize the new leadership in Tripoli.

South African President Jacob Zuma hosted the meeting in Pretoria for the AU panel, which also includes the leaders of Uganda, Mauritania, Mali and Congo-Brazzaville.

Although about 20 African countries have recognized the NTC, the AU has so far refused to do so and is instead sticking to its "road map" for Libya, which calls for an inclusive government in Tripoli.

What exactly that means is still unclear. South Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane insisted that the NTC knew "exactly what the AU meant by an all-inclusive interim government" but she stopped short of saying that Qaddafi loyalists should be included.

The Security Council meanwhile is considering a new resolution that would establish a UN mission in Libya and unfreeze assets of two major oil companies, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press. Britain circulated the draft resolution to the 15-member council Tuesday night and Western diplomats said they are hoping for a vote by the end of the week.

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