Norway hopes for a ‘new Libya’

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Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre was following the developments in Libya closely on Monday, and noted that embattled Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi had “several opportunities” to end the conflict earlier. Støre claimed the NATO bombings in which Norway took part have played a decisive role in stopping Gadhafi’s attacks on his own people.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre defended Norway's participation in the NATO bombing of Libya and now hoped the opposition's armed battle against the Gadhafi regime would end soon. PHOTO: Utenriksdepartementet/Ministry of Foreign Affairs

As opposition troops entered Libya’s capital city Tripoli over the weekend, and seemed to be gaining control over the entire city on Monday, Støre said he hoped events during the night mean the end of the six-month-long conflict that was sinking into civil war.

“If this is the end of the armed conflict and the start of the long road ahead, then it’s a day of joy,” Støre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday.

Norway was quick to support the historic UN Security Council resolution to attack Libya in a stated effort to hinder the Gadhafi regime’s attacks on the political opposition. The Norwegian government, with full backing from the Norwegian Parliament, then decided to send six of its own jets to join the UN-backed but NATO-led assault on Libya. At one point, the Norwegian jets were deemed to be among the most active in the NATO bombing.

Norway’s role in the attacks on Libya started generating criticism, however, and the government decided to bring its jets and military personnel home, with most returning to Norway earlier this month. Norway, as a member of NATO, has continued to offer other means of support since.

Støre maintains that the bombing helped “put a stop to Gadhafi’s intention to attack his own people” with his military might.

“Many have feared a battle over Tripoli, and that the military conflict would be dramatic for civilians,” Støre told NRK. “Now it looks like that’s not happening,” but he added that he thinks it’s important to note that there were many unknowns, and not to celebrate too soon.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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