Transcript of press conference with Prime Minister of Libya, Dr Abdurraheem Al-Keeb
Subjects: Visit to Libya
Transcript E&OE, proof only.
8 December 2011
KEVIN RUDD: Let me say one or two things. First of all, thank you Prime Minister for your time this afternoon. Australia is a long way from Libya geographically but Libyan people are close to us in their hearts. When we saw the revolution happening here in Libya, we in Australia wanted to help.
We were the first country in the international community to call for the UN Security Council to impose a no fly zone over Libya.
We were the first country in the international community to call for the Qaddafi regime to be put before the international criminal court. I did so in statements on the twenty fifth of February this year. It was when I also wrote to the President of the Security Council.
I come here to Libya today to salute the courage of the freedom fighters of Libya. I also come here in solidarity to work out how we can support the new Libyan Democracy and we will work closely together in the challenges ahead.
During the revolution we are proud of the fact that we in Australia assisted the people of Libya, in food, in water, in shelter, in helping refugees, through all the agencies and the Red Crescent. That is the assistance we have provided so far, now it's a question of how we work with them in the future. We are supporting financially the UN agencies here now, including those who are engaged in preparations for the election, those who are assisting the demining of Libya, as well as the World Health Organisation. And we are going to work together now in agriculture and dry land farming. Australia is almost as dry as Libya. And so we have much to share.
We are going to work closely in higher education. During the civil war, we the Australian government provided financial support to a thousand Libyan students in Australia to allow them to stay at university. They will now come back to help build a new Libya, and will work in other fields like oil and gas and mining.
So while we are two countries a long way from each other on the map, we are close to one another in our hearts. We see ourselves as supporters of Libya and the great challenges which lie ahead for the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, and other Ministers.
Thank you very much
JOURNALIST: What is the greatest challenge for Libya according to you now?
KEVIN RUDD: Well I'm a foreigner, why would I answer that question on behalf of the Libyan government. The beginning of wisdom is not to tell other countries what to do. And if I did have an idea on that, I'd tell our friends in Libya privately not publicly. It's a matter for the Libyan government to determine the country's priorities and the responsibility of a friend is to work with them in implementing these programs. We don't believe in preaching.
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