NATO may pressure Canada to stay on in Libya

Rebels' success in overrunning Libya's capital of Tripoli has Prime Minister Stephen Harper musing about declaring victory for Canadian and allied force there.

But he's not offering any guesses as to how soon that will happen.

"This is the beginning of the end of the Gadhafi regime," Harper told reporters in Resolute Bay, Nunavut. "We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the actual process of regime change to be in place."

Harper's comments came after Canadian and allied diplomats met in Brussels to discuss the Alliance's role in the event Moammar Gadhafi's regime is defeated.

NATO has said any post-Gadhafi mission would not involve ground forces, would be secondary to an effort led by the U.N., and would only take place in response to an official request.

Col. Roland Lavoie, military spokesman for Operation Unified Protector, says NATO must stay involved in Libya as long as Gadhafi is in power.

"There's nobody who could predict when exactly the Gadhafi forces will drop their weapons," said Lavoie during a briefing in Brussels. "They will do so probably when there will be a political settlement to their conflicts."

Harper added Canada may need to play a post-Gadhafi role in Libya.

"This country needs a whole range of assistance -- all the way from monetary assistance to capacity building," he said. "We stand ready to help any way we can. I don't think, to be frank, it's been decided yet who will do what, but the entire international community is prepared to help and see a peaceful transition here."

Meantime, Foreign Affairs has confirmed it's aware of 227 Canadian citizens still in Libya, despite the danger in the country.

Early on in the conflict, the Canadian embassy in Tripoli suspended its operations and Canadian officials left the country.

Citizens in Libya, or their relatives in Canada, can call 613-996-8885 for consular assistance.

[Source: By Daniel Proussalidis, Parliamentary Bureau, Toronto Sun, Ottawa, 23Aug11]

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