New close partnership between Libya and the U.S.? U.S. Defense Security makes historic visit to Libya

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta greets members of the Libyan delegation on the tarmac during his arrival in Tripoli, Libya, on Saturday.

After the death of Qaddafi, a new chapter is opening up in U.S.-Libya relationsas U.S. defense security Leon Panetta made a historic visit to post Qaddafi Libya.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday that Tripoli could become an important security partner of Washington as he visited Libya for talks with new regime officials.“We are and will be your friend and partner,” Panetta said at a news conference with Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib.“This new and free Libya can become an important security partner of the United States,” he said, adding that Washington was looking forward to building a close partnership.“We stand ready to offer whatever assistance in the spirit of friendship and a spirit of mutual respect.” But Panetta, who also met Defence Minister Osama Jouili, stressed that his talks in Tripoli did not involve military equipment. “At this stage there was certainly no discussions involving arms or military equipment,” he said when asked about the type of security cooperation he envisioned. Earlier he had told the travelling press, including an AFP correspondent, that his brief visit to Tripoli was to confer with the country’s new rulers on the security needs of their government. “The purpose of my trip to Libya is to have an opportunity to look at that situation up close but to also pay tribute to the Libyan people to what they did in bringing (former leader Moamer) Kadhafi down and trying to establish a government for the future,” Panetta said. He acknowledged that Libya’s rulers would face huge challenges but said he was confident they would “succeed in putting a democracy together in Libya.” “I’m confident that they’re taking the right steps to reach out to all these groups and bring them together so that they will be part of one Libya and that they will be part of one defence system,” he said. Panetta said he expected the Libyans “to determine the future of Libya” and “determine what assistance they require from the United States and the international community.”Libya’s rulers are facing a big challenge as they try to disarm militiamen who fought to topple Kadhafi and secure thousands of surface-to-air missiles stockpiled under the former regime.

Though one can’t predict the future since it is unknown, what is known now is that Libya and the U.S. won’t have hostile relations between each other post Qaddafi.  This change from hostility to possible cooperation is no doubt good for both nations. The end of the Qaddafi regime brought to an end a sad, tragic, cruel chapter in the lives of the Libyan people.  With a new beginning, the road ahead will be difficult especially in reforming the economy to join global trade, having a stable political environment, but in the long run, that is what’s needed to move ahead.

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