By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 4 April 2013:
Republican Arizona senator John McCain visiting Tripoli today said that there was no truth in the rumour that foreign troops were going to be on the ground in Libya to help in its security drive.
He called it “ridiculous” and “categorically false” and said that anyone who said otherwise was “lying to the Libyan people”.
He said that he had meetings with Magarief, Zeidan, Ministers, GNC members and NGOs from Benghazi and Tripoli.
Challenges and hope
The Arizona Senator confirmed that this was his fifth trip to Libya since the Revolution. He admitted that there were “real and serious challenges facing Libya “ but that he was “hopeful” and assured by the aspirations of the Libyan people for democracy, peace and the rule of law.
America believes in Libya
Libya was in the news a lot after 9/11 too often for the wrong reasons, he recalled. McCain said that he wanted Libya and Libyans to know that he and America “believe in Libya”. He saw the “irrepressible” spirit in the Libyan people and their resistance in Benghazi and Misrata against Qaddafi’s attack.
“Libya’s future is in your hands”, he added and that America stands with Libya “as equal partners”.
US to help Libya with training and “equipment”
Asked by Libya Herald if the West would, in its call for better security in Libya, help Libya help itself by proving some arms, the Senator replied that the “US will help with training and equipment…only if it were requested by the Libyan government – as determined by the needs of the Libyan government and Libyan people”.
“Our logistical help will grow equally with the development of the Libyan government”.
Justice and Chris Stevens
Asked about the situation of justice in Libya, McCain said that Libyan Justice Minister Salah Maraghni “has a strong reputation for human rights…and has a tough job..to bring terrorists to justice, including those who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens.”
Regarding the investigation of that murder, McCain confirmed that the ‘’investigation was continuing’’ and that the Libyan government was ‘’cooperating’’.
Progress on disarming and integrating militias
He went on to add that the Libyan government had assured him that it “was making progress” on the issue of disarming and reintegrating the militias. He thought is was Libya’s “challenge..especially in the east of Libya”.
Al Qaeda in the Maghreb
Asked about his regional tour and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, McCain was adamant: The spread of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb was a “fact”. Many were crossing to fight in Syria he added. Many were fleeing Mali, he said and that the “challenge requires the cooperation of all nations in the Maghreb”.
The US could provide logistic and technical assistance and outside advisory role, but did not envision a presence in the region, he added.