Where US-Libya relations Can Go From Here

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: The Obama administration is following events in Libya closely. One top concern is whether the weapons and nuclear materials left behind by the crumbling Gaddafi regime could fall into the hands of terrorist. Aaron Snipe is a spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, he joins us from Washington. Mr. Snipe, what is your take on that concern about Gaddafi's weapon of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands?

Aaron Snipe: It's certainly a concern. That is why the United States remains deeply engaged on all fronts. The situation remains fluid, but it's very clear to us that the Gaddafi era is coming to an end. And we are assisting the Transitional National Council, the TNC or NTC as it's also being called, in addressing some of these critical issues, some of which include the weapons issue.

Werman: Do you think there's a danger of the US closely associating itself with the rebels, with the TNC, particularly if the country that emerges from all of this isn't what is hoped for internationally?

Snipe: It's a valid question and a valid concern, but if we take a look at what the Transitional National Council has said, this is a council that is really headed in the right direction. Prime Minister Jibril of the TNC recently noted that it was imperative for the TNC to ensure the security and stability of Libya, and to begin building new institutions which include a national congress whose elected members would draft a constitution. But I would also note that the public statements out of the TNC have called for humane treatment and protection of prisoners and Gaddafi supporters. So, this is a TNC that is taking leadership very seriously and that's why we remain engaged.

Werman: We just heard from Fawaz Gerges, who knows Libya quite well, that the TNC is lacking in unity. What are the concerns of the State Department?

Snipe: That is not the position that we would take that they're lacking in unity. Of course, any transitional government is going to have to bring many parties under the same tent, but we believe that the TNC's leadership as it currently stands is doing just that. They are attempting to include as many people from tribes, from different political affiliations, to ensure that there is a representative government and that the will of the Libyan people is honored.

Werman: What do you think are gonna be the consequences, the diplomatic consequences from the United States or any country that gives Gaddafi asylum if in fact it happens?

Snipe: That's a hypothetical question and I'm not quite sure what would happen. Right now the TNC believes that Gaddafi should be tried under the rule of law and that's exactly what we are focused on as well.

Werman: What are the main concerns of the State Department about Libya as long as Gaddafi is not located?

Snipe: Well, he continues to be the skunk at the picnic, but this is a revolution of the people and I don't believe that it is in anyone's best interest to focus too much on Muammar Gaddafi, to focus on one man. The Libyan people are calling for change and the focus needs to be on the people, and that's exactly what we're focused on.

Werman: Aaron Snipe, a spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, thanks very much for your time.

Snipe: Thank you.