Published: Sep 15, 2011 22:53 Updated: Sep 15, 2011 22:55
TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI: Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron landed in Libya to a heroes’ welcome on Thursday, promising help for the new rulers that French and British air power helped to install and being told the favor may be repaid in business contracts.
Just three weeks after rebel forces backed by NATO bombers overran the capital, French President Sarkozy and the British prime minister promised in Tripoli to help hunt down the fugitive Muammar Qaddafi and to hand his frozen assets to his successors.
The forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC) later declared a breakthrough in the siege of Qaddafi’s home town of Sirte, advancing into the outskirts of one of three main urban areas still beyond the interim government’s control.
In Benghazi, seat of the uprising which early intervention by French and British jets helped to save from Qaddafi’s army in March, Sarkozy and Cameron were treated to a rapturous, rowdy welcome on “Freedom Square”, shouting to be heard over a cheering crowd of hundreds waving French and British flags.
“It’s great to be here in free Benghazi and in free Libya,” said Cameron as he strained, rock-star hoarse, above the chants in televised scenes both men will hope play well back home.