French And British Leaders Visit Libya

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Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is 'The World.' The new Libya got a big boost today. British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited the country. They are the first foreign leaders to go to Libya since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi from Tripoli. The two leaders had meetings with members of the Transitional National Council. Later, David Cameron told a press conference that Libya is an example for other Arab nations to follow.

David Cameron: This is a moment when the Arab Spring could become an Arab Summer and we see democracy advance in other countries too. And I believe you have an opportunity to give an example to others about what taking back your country can mean.

Mullins: That was Britain's David Cameron speaking earlier today in Tripoli. Reporter Marine Olivesi is in the Libyan capital now. Two world leaders in Libya today, major international recognition for the transitional leaders in Libya now. What's been the reaction there?

Marine Olivesi: Well, it was interesting in Tripoli this morning because not a lot of people seem to have heard of the visits. The visit was confirmed only late in the day yesterday. And this morning there was really no sign that people were aware that they were coming. The only obvious sign you could have was around the hotel the whole area was completely sealed off. David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy showed up at one of the main hospitals in Tripoli and spent about half an hour there. The medical staff, they gave them several rounds of applause. They had a very warm reception. They headed to the hotel and then it was mostly the press. It was only later on in the evening when Sarkozy had the big warm reception, rock star style reception that maybe a lot of people were waiting for here.

Mullins: And that's pretty significant as you say. They went to Benghazi, which had been a rebel stronghold. A lot of blood shed previously in Benghazi and the two leaders went there. Now the overall picture the overall reason for their coming to Libya to begin with. It seems to signal that Libya's back in the fold of the international community. But, perhaps also that it's open for business?

Olivesi: As far as we know, there has been no deals that have been signed. So it's still something everyone will be looking at in the next few weeks.

Mullins: And how do Libyans themselves feel about that?

Olivesi: The Libyans I've talked to don't seem to be bothered by the idea that France or the UK would get a treatment of favor. They feel that France and the UK have risked a lot of their political capital by intervening in Libya. It would only be a natural return of investment to give them a treatment of favor. One of the Libyans was telling me, 'I'd prefer France or the UK to get their hands on some of the Libyan resources instead of having random countries like China, who didn't step in for us when we needed them.'

Mullins: In that piece of tape we heard from David Cameron. He said to Libyans, 'You have the chance now to be an example to others about what taking back your country can mean.' I wonder what the reaction of Libyans was to that because there was an awful lot of blood that was spilled. I mean this revolution came at the expense of both blood and treasure in Libya. Muammar Gaddafi is still on the loose right now. There is a lot of unfinished business. What do Libyans expect of the international community? And what do they expect of their transitional leaders at least right now?

Olivesi: Well I think a lot of people in Libya are still keeping their eyes on what should be done in the next few weeks. There's still fightings in Libya. There's still two of the main pockets of resistance around [Kurd] and Bani Walid. Where as the rebel commanders keeps saying they will attack and because they want to spare civilian lives they don't quite carry out any offensive. And so There is suspense especially during the visits today where it feels like are welcoming the new Libya and at the same time people realize there is still fighting. There is still some civilians fleeing these areas. So, that's one thing of course that Libyans think of. Then there's the problem of where's Gaddafi. And some people think it won't really be over until Gaddafi is captured.

Mullins: OK. Thank you. Speaking with us from Tripoli in Libya is reporter Marine Olivesi. Thank you again.

Olivesi: You're welcome.

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