Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Libyans hail Cameron and Sarkozy

Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have received a hero's welcome as they addressed a jubilant crowd in Benghazi - the birthplace of the Libyan revolution.

Less than four weeks after the final overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the two architects of Nato air strikes against his regime flew in to demonstrate their support for the fledging new government which has replaced him.

At a joint news conference in the capital, Tripoli, they pledged continued assistance to the country Mr Cameron called "free Libya", including stepping up efforts to unfreeze assets held overseas.

But the emotional climax of their visit came in Benghazi's Freedom Square, where they were given an ecstatic reception by a crowd waving British and French flags alongside the old Libya flag adopted by the anti-Gaddafi rebels.

To cheers of "Thank you Cameron", the Prime Minister told them that their city had been "an inspiration to the world" as they led the fight to throw off 42 years of dictatorship.

"You showed the world you would get rid of a dictator and choose freedom. Colonel Gaddafi said he would hunt you down like rats but you showed the courage of lions," he said.

"Your friends in Britain and in France will stand with you as you build your democracy and build your country for the future."

At a joint news conference in the city's Corinthia Hotel, the two leaders set out a package of measures of practical support. Mr Cameron said Britain would provide assistance in clearing mines and decommissioning dangerous weapons, while Mr Sarkozy said the French would help in rebuilding Libya's shattered schools.

Both leaders emphasised the need to ensure that Gaddafi was captured and made to stand trial for his crimes.

"We will help you to find Gaddafi and to bring him to justice and we want to help you to take the dangerous weapons out of Libya," Mr Cameron said.


From Belfast Telegraph