Panetta: Libya mission can’t end before fighting

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, August 4, 2011

 From Lolita C. Baldor, the AP:  NATO’s mission in Libya cannot end as long as fighting continues, including in Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.

"As long as there is fighting that continues in Libya, I suspect that the NATO mission will continue," Panetta said ahead of meetings later this week with other NATO defense chiefs. . . .

"I think the fighting has to end" before NATO can withdraw, Panetta told reporters traveling with him in the Middle East and Europe. "They can’t continue to have the level of fighting that they’re still having there and be able to turn to the kind of governance and issues that they’re going to have to confront in order to establish stability. . . ."

The top U.S. military commander in Africa told The Associated Press last week that he believes the military mission is nearing an end.  (photo: AP)

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