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Coming days 'critical' for 'new Libya': Clinton

WASHINGTON -- The next days and weeks in Libya are “critical,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday, pledging full U.S. support to help rebuild the country once strongman Moammar Gadhafi is gone.

On a day when the U.N. Security Council released US$1.5 billion of seized Libyan assets to be used for emergency aid, Clinton stressed that the onus was on the former rebels to set the tone for the “new Libya.”

“The situation remains fluid, but it is clear that the Gadhafi era is coming to an end, opening the way for a new era in Libya — one of liberty, justice, and peace,” she said in a written statement.

“There can be no place in the new Libya for revenge attacks and reprisals,” Clinton said. “Libya's future will be peaceful only if the leaders and people of Libya reach out to each other in a spirit of peace.”

The U.S. secretary of state said the NATO-led military intervention had helped prevent a massacre and sought to reassure the Libyan people that they would receive the continued support of the international community.

“The Libyan people made this revolution and they will lead the way forward, but they deserve our help. Libya's future is not guaranteed. Considerable work lies ahead. The coming days and weeks will be critical,” she said.

“Together with our partners, we have saved thousands of lives and helped confront a ruthless, erratic dictator who was poised to slaughter his own people in order to hold on to power.”

The United States said earlier Thursday that the US$1.5 billion of released Libyan assets would pay for U.N. programs, energy bills, health, education and food, and would not be used for military purposes.

“As funds are released, we look to the Transitional National Council to fulfill its international responsibilities and the commitments it has made to build a tolerant, unified democratic state — one that protects the universal human rights of all its citizens,” Clinton said.

“It is critical that the TNC engage swiftly with communities and leaders across Libya to ensure order, provide critical basic services to the people, and pave the way for a full democratic transition.”

Clinton also had a message for Gadhafi, whose whereabouts are unknown since his Tripoli compound was overrun by the rebels on Tuesday.

“We call on Gadhafi, his family, and his supporters to bring an end to their continuing violence for the sake of the Libyan people and Libya's future,” she said.

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