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Clinton Pledges More Aid for New Libyan Government in Unannounced Visit

October 18, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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MARGARET WARNER: And we turn to Libya, still grappling with the aftershocks of revolution. It received a high-profile visitor today.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underscored U.S. support for the Libyan revolution today with an unannounced visit to Tripoli.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: The Libyan people demonstrated their bravery and determination, and I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya.

MARGARET WARNER: She brought a pledge of more U.S. aid and urged the country’s transitional government to commit to a democratic path without reprisals.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: The Libyan people deserve a nation governed by the rule of law, not the whims of men. We believe you deserve a government that represents all Libyans from all parts of the country and all backgrounds, including women and young people.

MARGARET WARNER: Later, at a town hall-style gathering, the secretary spoke of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, still a fugitive, in decidedly non-diplomatic terms. “We hope he can be captured or killed soon,” she said, “to prevent him from disrupting the new Libya.”

Her visit came two months after the rebels took control of Tripoli and stormed Gadhafi’s compound. But it has proved tougher to take the last redoubts of Gadhafi loyalists, the town of Bani Walid and the port city of Sirte, his hometown.

The center of Bani Walid fell yesterday. And, today, the rebel forces launched their latest offensive into Sirte. The rebels’ Transitional National Council has said it will declare the country liberated only when Sirte is under control. That will trigger a timetable to national elections.

For now, as the fighting continues, so does the hunt for missing weapons. The U.S. has sent 14 experts and committed $40 million to find and destroy shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles looted from Gadhafi government stockpiles.