Clinton: No-Fly Zone In Libya Requires Bombing Raids

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya would require bombing raids — one of several options being debated by the U.N. Security Council. Clinton made the comments while visiting neighboring Tunisia — where she met aid workers who have been helping refugees from Libya.

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya would require bombing raids, one of several options being debated by the U.N. Security Council. Secretary Clinton made the comments while visiting neighboring Tunisia, where she met aid workers who have been helping refugees from Libya.

As NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, it was in Tunisia that the Arab revolutions began and Clinton promised to help with the country's own transition.

MICHELE KELEMEN: Secretary Clinton toured a Red Crescent training center posing for pictures in front of an ambulance the U.S. donated and seeing what sort of aid the group is providing to people fleeing the violence in Libya.

Secretary HILLARY CLINTON (Department of State): Oh, look. Oh.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sec. CLINTON: That's cute.

Unidentified Man: Yes. And (unintelligible) and all of them - all the stuff...

KELEMEN: She says she's impressed by how Tunisia facing its own troubles at home responded to the crisis along its border.

Sec. CLINTON: We know you're stretched and you have really stepped up and performed in a humanitarian way with such professionalism. And yet, we also know Tunisia has its needs right now and we want to be sure that we help you meet both humanitarian needs on the border and the humanitarian needs inside Tunisia.

KELEMEN: The secretary went on to meet Tunisia's interim president, Foued Mebazaa, as well as the prime minister and the foreign minister, to see how the U.S. can help the country. As she did in Egypt this week, Clinton announced plans for an enterprise fund to promote job creation in Tunisia and said the U.S. would encourage more investment.

Sec. CLINTON: The Tunisian people have made history once again.

Unidentified Woman: (Foreign language spoken)

Sec. CLINTON: You have shown the world that peaceful change is possible.

KELEMEN: Throughout this trip, though, she has raised concerns about Arab countries cracking down on protests that were inspired by Tunisia. Opposition figures have been rounded up in Bahrain and Gulf states have sent in troops to back up the Bahraini government.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces are closing in on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. And Clinton says the U.S. and others want to take steps to stop that.

Sec. CLINTON: The international community is debating how best to prevent Gadhafi from overrunning the opposition and killing many more innocent people.

KELEMEN: The U.S. wants to see Arab states play a role militarily, and Clinton points out that imposing a no-fly zone would require bombing raids.

Sec. CLINTON: That military experts across the world know that a no-fly zone requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense system.

KELEMEN: When a Tunisian reporter asked if the U.S. is planning to send ground troops through Tunisia or Egypt, Clinton made clear that is not an option. She did face some other skepticism here about the U.S. role in the region. A few protesters stood outside the U.S. embassy with signs saying Clinton was not welcome, while others gathered outside the foreign ministry.

Clinton ended up not going to that building and the foreign minister apologized for having to move the meeting and the press conference because of, quote, "confusion."

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Tunis.

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