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Visiting NATO Chief Hails End Of Libya Mission


NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has praised Libyans for their "courage, determination, and sacrifice" during the uprising against the late Muammar Qaddafi that was bolstered by the trans-Atlantic alliance's air power.

Rasmussen was speaking in Tripoli hours before the formal end of the alliance's seven-month mission over Libya.

He said he was "proud of the part NATO played" in helping the Libyan rebels, saying they have transformed Libya and "helped change the region."

NATO forces, acting under a UN Security Council mandate to protect civilians, began operations in March as Qaddafi forces moved to crush the uprising.

Libya's new interim authorities declared the country liberated after the capture and killing of Qaddafi and the fall of his hometown of Sirte on October 20.

The Security Council voted unanimously last week to end military operations on October 31.

Rasmussen added that NATO had no exact information about stockpiles of weapons in Libya, after Libyan interim rulers confirmed the presence of chemical weapons in the country.

"We have no exact information about stockpiles of weapons in Libya, but of course it is a matter of concern to make sure that weapons are properly controlled and monitored and eventually also destroyed," he said.

Interim Prime Minister Mahmud Jibril has said foreign inspectors will arrive later this week to deal with the issue, saying Libya has no interest in keeping such weapons.

compiled from agency reports
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