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Australian FM Predicts Promising Future for Libya

2011-12-11 – www.sherwestravel.com

At the end of a day-long visit to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where he met the country's new leaders, and was hosted by the Libyan prime minster r Abdurrahim el-Keeb, Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd said he was surprised to find a calm Tripoli and predicted a "promising" future for Libya.

In Tripoli where he hauled the Australian flag up the pole at the Australian consul-general's residence "to show we are back in business in Libya,", Mr Rudd said the challenge went much further than de-mining.

He said Mr el-Keeb told him that disarming the former rebels was a much more complex issue than it may sound and that the government was holding talks with militias and had a "solid and detailed program" to rehabilitate the many former rebels

In comments he made to The Weekend Australian, Mr Rudd said: "Given the economic fundamentals of the country, if we can help Libya get the politics right and help in supporting stable, democratic institutions, the future is promising.”

The he added: “What would be new in Libya is for the enormous revenues which flow from these resource projects to flow back to the Libyan people for the first time.

"There is a large prospect that prosperity and stability can go forward hand-in-hand, but these are very early days."

Referring to reports of sporadic gunfire in the Libyan capital, he said had heard only "occasional distant and sporadic gunfire".

"Obviously, the challenge facing the government - and they're acutely conscious of this - is when to remove the militia currently in Tripoli from the capital," Mr Rudd said. "They are now fully seized of that, working out how it is best done. Obviously, the residents of Tripoli want that to be attended to as well.

He said he found there to be an atmosphere of calm and cool determination to deal with this as the necessary next step prior to setting up the institutional machinery for the elections next year.

Asked if he believed the National Transitional Council was in control, he said: "Based on everything that we have been able to assess, that is the case. We believe they are in a reasonable position to assert their control."

Australia has given indications that it would progressively resume diplomatic operations in Tripoli early next year. The Libyan government recognised the continent's contribution this year, as Australia was the first country to call on the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone at the start of the eight-month long conflcit that eventually toppled the Al Qathafi regime.

There was also a recognition that Australia was the second-largest national humanitarian donor during the civil war.

Mr Rudd told The Weekend Australian that Australia was now supporting the UN Development Programme to build a system for next year's elections in Libya.

“We are also assisting with several million dollars for de-mining operations to deal with the whole range of unexploded ordinances.

"There is unexploded ordinance lying around the place from the civil war, as well as ammunitions caches," he said. "We have provided an additional $2 million in funding, otherwise that [United Nations] de-mining operation would have ground to a halt as of January 15."

We will also be making major contributions in terms of agriculture ...We discussed education, the health system and oil, gas and mining. This is not just a discussion about aid, but about economic opportunities for Australian firms," Mr Rudd said.

The politican and former Australian premier added that it was too fashionable in the international community to be simply pessimistic about Libya's future given all the challenges.

He also referred the issue of Al Qathafi's son Seif al-Islam who was captured recently. He said Australia believed he should be tried fairly and within the framework of the International Criminal Court.

 
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Sherwes Travel • P.O. Box 91713 Dath El Emad • Tripoli • Libya • Tel/fax: +218-21-4801370 • Cellphone: +218-925201677
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