Ottawa: Canada`s top diplomat went to
Tripoli to reopen its embassy and announce funding to help Libya`s ruling National Transitional Council secure weapons
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird traveled in an
armored convoy to meetings in Libya`s capital yesterday,
accompanied by Canadian officials and business leaders seeking
to restore trade ties with the war-ravaged nation.
On the trip were representatives of Suncor, SNC Lavalin,
Pure Technology, the Canadian Bureau for International
Education and the advocacy group Rights and Democracy.
"Our government remains committed to protecting the
Libyan people and supporting their efforts to build a brighter
future for themselves," Baird said in a statement.
He offered Canada`s "congratulations on the
transformative events that have been taking place in Libya,
since the fall of Tripoli," according to a pool report.
"The establishment of a new government is exciting," he
said. "We`re excited by the roadmap towards (electing) a
national congress. We`re excited about the future role of
women in Libya."
In Tripoli, the minister met with NTC chair Mustafa Abdul
Jalil to discuss the progress of Libya`s transition from the
rule of strongman Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
As well, he announced a contribution of $10 million to
help secure 23,000 shoulder-to-air missile launchers and
chemical weapons in Gaddafi`s arsenal. The money is part of a
larger international contribution.
"The security situation in Libya is still quite volatile
and the risk of these items falling into the wrong hands or
injuring civilians is very real," Baird said. "Canada sees
this disarmament as a top priority in making Libya and the
entire region safer."
Officials said Abudl Jalil told Baird he was prepared to
declare the country liberated when Sirte falls. It is the last
city with a port and airport still held by Gaddafi loyalists.
Officials said Tarhouni told Baird the NTC is reviewing
old oil contracts to determine their legitimacy and noted that
Libya is now producing 400,000 barrels of oil per day --
one-quarter of its pre-war output.
Baird also hosted a round table with Libyan women`s
rights advocates, and met with representatives from
non-governmental organizations, Libya`s social affairs
minister Anwar Abu Shagur and oil minister Ali Tarhouni.