Clinton Plans To Visit Egypt And Tunisia; Will Meet With Libyans

March 10, 2011

Bill Chappell

As Egypt and Tunisia struggle to form viable governments following the exit of their longtime leaders, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to visit the two nations next week. In Congress Thursday, Clinton told Congress that the goal is to help them move toward democracy.

Clinton also said that she will meet with members of Libya's anti-Gadhafi movement. And she said that the Obama administration is suspending all ties to Libya's Washington embassy.

Here's a report filed by Michele Kelemen for Newscast:

At a budget hearing, Secretary Clinton called this a challenging time for America's interests in the Middle East and North Africa. And she said she's going to Tunisia and Egypt to make clear that the U.S. wants to be a partner, as they embark on a transition to democracy.

"We have an enormous stake in ensuring that Egypt and Tunisia provide models for the kind of democracy that we want to see," Clinton said.

Clinton also said that she and other U.S. officials are reaching out to Libyan opposition figures as the U.S. works in NATO, the United Nations, the Arab League and other regional groups to step up the pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gahdafi to end the violence against his people.

Clinton also said that any unilateral U.S. military action could have "unforeseeable consequences." Her remarks came during a visit to a House appropriations subcommittee.

That view matches comments from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who told reporters at a gathering of NATO defense ministers in Brussels Thursday that while the military alliance will continue planning for a possible no-fly zone in Libya, NATO and the United States are not yet ready to act, according to the AP.

In Libya Thursday, pro-Gadhafi forces drove rebels out of a strategic oil port city. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.