Westerwelle pledges support for Libya during North Africa tour

Other News Materials 8 January 2012 14:42 (UTC +04:00)

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday pledged support for Libya's reconstruction after the civil war of the past year, dpa reported.

"Germany stands by the new Libya as a friend and partner," said Westerwelle, before flying to Tripoli from Algeria, where he began a three-day tour of North Africa on Saturday.

Westerwelle itemized some of the challenges facing Libya's interim government, following decades of dictatorship.

The government needed to disarm the rebels that fought slain leader Moamer Gaddafi's forces, integrate militia members into the regular army and establish the rule of law, he said.

Broadly speaking, the main challenge would be to establish a pluralistic society, he said.

Westerwelle is to meet leaders of Libya's interim government, including the prime minister, Abdurrahim al-Keib, as well as representatives from political parties and non-governmental organizations.

His stay in Libya is the shortest of his visits in North Africa, reflecting Germany's reduced influence in the country after Berlin refused to participate in the NATO-led air campaign that helped oust Gaddafi's regime.

Germany has since sought to assist Libya in other ways. More than 1,000 people wounded in the months of fighting received treatment in German hospitals. Germany is also assisting Libya in safeguarding and destroying weapons and munitions supplies.

From Libya, Westerwelle will continue his tour later in Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring uprisings began in December 2010. On January 14, Tunisia will celebrate one year since the ouster of autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Westerwelle will meet the country's new power-sharing government, which is led by the Islamist party Ennahda.

In Algeria, the North African country least impacted by the popular revolts in the region, he held talks with the foreign minister and prime minister about boosting cooperation in renewable energy and on the need for further reforms.