NATO in Libya a 'model' for Euro-US cooperation: US official

15th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A senior US State Department official on Wednesday hailed NATO's air strike campaign in Libya as a "model" for future cooperation between European members of the military alliance and the US.

The operation in Libya was "in many ways a model on how the United States can lead the way that allows allies to support," Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Philip Gordon said at an event in Washington.

"What is new about Libya is the approach that the United States would do an initial phase that only the United States could do, and then that Europeans were playing a leading role in certain aspects," he said.

Britain and France spearheaded the air war to protect civilians from Moamer Kadhafi's forces in Libya, launching the first salvos under a coalition led by the United States on March 19.

But with the United States bogged down in Afghanistan, US President Barack Obama handed command of Libya operations to NATO on March 31.

At the outset, Obama called on NATO to take action and deployed "very unique capabilities no one else could deploy," Gordon said.

"Once the United States had done its job by suppressing the air defences in Libya, we saw the strike missions carried out in the lead by other allies," he said -- evidence that "it is possible to successfully conduct a NATO operation" without the US taking center stage.

© 2011 AFP

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