Panetta: Libyan Government Will Build Democracy

Posted December 17th, 2011 at 10:20 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pledged U.S. support to Libya on Saturday during a visit to the capital, Tripoli.

The Pentagon chief offered the help to the country's transitional leaders who are struggling to create a cohesive democratic society.

He met with Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib and the country's defense minister . The talks came a day after the U.S. lifted most economic sanctions against Libya, in an effort to ease a financial crisis in the country.

After the meeting, Panetta told reporters that Libya would determine what assistance it needed from the international community.

“At this stage there certainly was no discussion involving arms or military equipment.”

On Friday, the U.S. released more than $30 billion in Libyan government assets. The U.N. Security Council took similar action, unfreezing an estimated $150 billion of Libyan assets abroad. The world body froze the funds after the rebellion against former leader Moammar Gadhafi broke out in February.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said his nation will pressure the European Union to swiftly release $10 billion in Libyan assets that are frozen in Britain.

Panetta is the first American defense secretary ever to visit the country.

His visit to Libya took place at the end of an overseas tour that included stops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and Djibouti.