Obama does a Mahinda, calls NATO’s Libyan mission a ‘humanitarian operation’


By Shamindra Ferdinando

US President Barrack Obama has referred to the recently concluded NATO mission in Libya as a humanitarian operation to protect civilians in that country.  

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Oslo, Rodney Perera, says the reference had been made at a meeting between US President Obama and the Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office in the immediate aftermath of the capture and execution of the ousted Libyan leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

Responding to a query by The Island, Ambassador Perera said the term, ‘humanitarian operation’ had not been in the lexicon of the international community before Sri Lanka’s successful war against terrorism which was concluded in May 2009.

Ambassador Perera quoted US President Obama as having told the White House media, at the conclusion of his 45 minute-long meeting with PM Stoltenberg, that Norway’s efforts in the humanitarian operation to protect civilians in Libya, and not least of the Norwegian pilots, hadbeen commendable. Perera said that the Norwegian media also quoted the US leader as having stressed Norway’s role as an important ally.

"This has been a NATO operation which has been very effectively carried out, amongst others thanks to NATO partners like Norway, who have done more than their share, said Obama.

President Obama first met Stoltenberg in December, 2009, when he flew to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Earlier this year, Obama signed a condolence book at the Norwegian ambassador’s residence in Washington after a Norwegian killed 69 people at a youth camp and detonated a car bomb in Oslo, killing eight others. The killer allegedly drew inspiration from the LTTE.

Norway was one of eight NATO members that conducted air strikes in the four-month-old operation. Oslo originally deployed F-16 combat aircraft in the mission.

Only eight of grouping’s 28 member states have flown bombing missions since the alliance took command of the operation on March 31 – Norway, Britain, France, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and the United States.

Addressing the media at the conclusion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2011) on Oct. 30th, External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said that the situation in Libya and Sri Lanka couldn’t be compared at all. The Minister was responding to a query by Channel 4 News, which produced the unsubstantiated ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ why Sri Lanka wanted ousted Libyan leader’s death investigated, while opposing an inquiry into the conduct of its troops accused of war crimes.

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