Statement Following Meeting With Arab League Secretary General Nabil El Arabi
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
I was also able, as the Secretary General mentioned, to brief him on my trip to Libya over the past few days and the views of the United States regarding the developments in Libya. We look forward to the day when we see the end at last of Qadhafi’s tyranny and when the Libyan people are able to work together to build a better future for a united Libya. I also briefed him on U.S. views toward Syria, providing background to the President’s statement last Thursday that it is time for Bashar Al-Assad to go. We had the opportunity to discuss other developments in the region as well.
Q: Is there any special message from the United States to the Arab nations regarding Libya in the coming period?
Feltman: I think that all of us should support what the Libyan people themselves want – and we have heard consistently: A united Libya; a Libya that is playing a responsible role internationally; a Libya that respects the rights of all of its citizens; a Libya that is sovereign; a Libya that has a government which is inclusive and respects human rights. That is the Libya that we heard from people in civil society and people at the National Council that they want to see. The United States, along with a number of other countries, has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority of Libya during this transitional period. But now, as we see the very end of Qadhafi’s tyranny and the beginning of a new Libya, it’s important to emphasize the principles of respect for human rights, the respect for justice that the Transitional National Council has promised to all the Libyans. Libya’s future is now in the hands of the Libyan people and that is the way it should be.
Q: How do you see the general Arab response towards Libya?
Feltman: We are standing here at the Arab league. The Arab League showed leadership in denouncing the crimes that Qadhafi was committing against his own people. The Arab League is what basically provided the entry of the international community to building a coalition to protect Libyan civilians. It was because of a call from the Arab League that the international community came together in a mission to protect Libyan civilians. Those Libyan civilians are now on the threshold of being able to build a new Libya that meets their aspirations and I am confident that the Arab League is going to show the same leadership in embracing that Libya that they showed in denouncing the crimes that Qadhafi was committing against his own people.
Q: Has there been any response from any Arab country?
Feltman: Tunisia recognized the Council a couple of days ago. I think the important part was that the Arabs in general said that what Qadhafi was doing to his own people was outrageous and unacceptable. It was the Arab leadership that led to the international coalition that is supporting the Libyan people today and that has led to what I think is a very promising day for Libya’s future.