Put pressure on Gaddafi, US urges Africa
Washington - Senior US diplomats are visiting several African countries as part of continuing efforts to urge leaders there to press Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi to leave power immediately, officials said on Tuesday.
Having benefited financially from Gaddafi’s policies, a number of African countries have been reluctant to call for the long-time leader to step down and have criticised the Nato-led military campaign in Libya.
Gene Cretz, the US ambassador who left Libya after Gaddafi launched his bloody crackdown on the opposition in February, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Donald Yamamoto arrived on Monday in Addis Ababa, headquarters of the African Union, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner said.
The diplomats "are in Africa to meet with African Union members to discuss the crisis in Libya and the need for Gaddafi to relinquish power now," he told AFP.
Toner said the pair met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and would meet with African Union Chairperson Jean Ping before leaving Addis Ababa later.
They also met with Mahmud Jibril, leader of Libya's opposition National Transitional Council who was visiting Ethiopia.
"They had a productive meeting on the current situation in Libya and agreed on the importance of maintaining international pressure on Gaddafi," Toner said.
During a visit to AU headquarters in June, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed all African states to demand Gaddafi to step down as well as to expel his diplomats and increase African support for the opposition.
African leaders have publicly criticised Nato's assault on Gaddafi’s regime, with some accusing the alliance of abusing the United Nations resolution that authorised its bombing campaign.