Baird Updates Canadian Position on Libya

John BairdTHUNDER BAY – Fighting in Libya continues, as the Qadhafi regime continues to retreat. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird states, “I am pleased to announce that, having fully assessed the situation on the ground in Tripoli, Canada has re-established its diplomatic presence in Tripoli and is re-opening its embassy in a temporary location”.

“Canadian Ambassador, Sandra McCardell, led a team on an assessment visit to Tripoli. Having now taken stock of the situation, we are starting the work of refurbishing and securing our embassy in Tripoli,” continued Baird. “We have also brought in a team of staff members who will enable us to liaise directly with officials of the new Government of Libya. The team will also prepare for a larger complement of diplomats that will allow us to resume commercial services to Canadians”.

Baird announced that “Canada has also secured from the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions committee an exemption to unfreeze $2.2 billion worth of Libyan assets for humanitarian needs. These funds will help the Libyan people in the short and medium term; this money will help the new Libya get back on its feet”.

In Brussels, Belgium, Oana Lungescu (NATO Spokesperson) held a briefing today.

“This morning the North Atlantic Council met with our operational partners to review events in Libya since the last meeting two weeks ago. The situation is moving fast and it’s moving into the right direction. The political and military structures of the Qadhafi regime have crumbled, while the National Transitional Council has asserted control in key cities including Tripoli. We are encouraged by statements by the head of the NTC Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who spoke of forgiveness, reconciliation and unity, and clearly rejected extremism and vengeance”.

“The NTC is gaining growing international recognition, including by all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. And this time next week there will be a meeting of the Friends of Libya group on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York – and the Secretary General will of course attend this meeting.

“So Libya has gone a long way – and NATO has gone a long way in protecting the people of Libya, but our mission is not yet complete. Six months ago, when NATO together with our partners started enforcing the mandate of the UN Security Council, Benghazi was under threat, Misrata was under siege, and civilians were attacked and threatened every day by Qadhafi regime forces. We have enforced the UN mandate to protect civilians efectively. We have saved countless lives and, by protecting Libyan civilians, we helped them to gradually resume a normal life across the country and take the future into their own hands. But in some parts of the country the situation remains fluid.

As the secretary general has clearly stated, we are determined to continue the mission for as long as necessary – but not a day longer than necessary. Our clear intention is to terminate the mission as soon as the situation allows.

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