NATO boss sees role in ‘post-Kadhafi’ Libya

Filed on May 13, 2011

WASHINGTON — NATO will play a key role in any post-Kadhafi Libya and once the fighting stops in Afghanistan, the trans-Atlantic alliance’s chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said here Thursday.

Speaking to US students hours after NATO-led air strikes hit the compound of Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli, killing three people, Rasmussen said he envisioned the 60-year-old military alliance staying on in Libya in a “post-Kadhafi era.”

“In a post-Kadhafi era, I think we may still have a role to play in Libya, in assisting the new government in the transition to sustainable democracy,” Rasmussen said during a question and answer session after giving a speech at the School of Advanced International Studies here.

“An essential part of the transition to democracy is that the military and security sectors come under democratic control. So in that area, we need reforms and NATO could assist,” he said.

The NATO chief also said he did not foresee a complete withdrawal in 2014 or 2015” from Afghanistan.

“But I do envision a change of role from combat to support,” he added.

“We have outlined a roadmap under which we will gradually hand over lead responsibility for security to the Afghan security forces,” something the head of the alliance hopes will be completed by the end of 2014.

“But it’s important to stay committed beyond the day our combat role expires. It’s important to stay committed because we have to make sure we don’t leave behind a security vacuum in Afghanistan.

“It’s also important that we tell the Afghan people that we want them to stand on their own two feet, but they will not stand alone,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen is on a visit to the United States that will also take him to Atlanta, Chicago and Austin, Texas.

On Friday, he is due to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, to brief him on the situation in Libya and Afghanistan.

Libyan rebel leader Mahmud Jibril is also expected to visit the White House Friday for talks with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.

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