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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“U.S. reaching out to rebel forces in Libya, Clinton says”

A group of boys get into the revolutionary spirit on the streets of Benghazi, Libya, on Sunday, February 27, 2011. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/MCT)
Luis Sinco
A group of boys get into the revolutionary spirit on the streets of Benghazi, Libya, on Sunday, February 27, 2011. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

BENGHAZI, Libya — The Obama administration appeared Sunday to welcome the formation of a national opposition government in Libya, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying “”we’ve been reaching out”” to forces trying to oust dictator Moammar Qaddafi and are prepared “”to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.””

Clinton’s comments came as former high-ranking Libyan aides to Qaddafi who resigned since the uprising and his bloody crackdown began 12 days ago met behind closed doors in rebel-held Benghazi in eastern Libya, the country’s second-largest city, to create an alternative national government. Organizers said the government will include liberated cities and towns and emphasized it was temporary.

With an unconfirmed death toll estimated in the hundreds to the thousands, Qaddafi still held the capital of Tripoli on Sunday. Residents of nearby Zawiya said Qaddafi’s forces were circling the outskirts of their city after being run out days ago.

Two men told McClatchy in separate interviews by cell phone that Qaddafi forces were attacking on the edges of the city but had not re-entered the center, but that they feared that could happen at any time. The men spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety. One of the men also said there had been about two dozen kidnappings in the city since Friday.

It was unclear how high level the U.S. overtures to the opposition have been — or just what sort of aid has been offered or accepted and whether that includes military assistance.

Clinton spoke with reporters before departing for Geneva, Switzerland, where she’ll discuss the Libyan situation at a meeting Monday of the United Nations Human Rights Council. President Barack Obama is to meet Monday in Washington to discuss the situation with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Clinton did not explicitly endorse the opposition government. She said the discussion is “”just at the beginning of what will follow Qaddafi.””

“”First we have to see the end of his regime with no further violence and bloodshed, which is a big challenge in front of all of us,”” she said. “”But we’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well. I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.””

A spokesman for the opposition government, Abdulhafid Gouqa, said at a news conference in Benghazi on Sunday that the organizers were not talking to foreign governments and were not interested in outside intervention.

He also emphasized that the government was still being shaped and that he could not offer many specifics, but he insisted there would be no negotiations with Qaddafi’s regime. “”Our blood cannot be negotiated,”” he said.

 

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