BENGHAZI, Libya — Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird embarked on his first major visit in the post Monday, vowing to be a “strong friend” to Libya as he met rebel leaders in Benghazi.
Sporting a Libya-shaped pin-badge of rebel red, black and green, Baird said he had been “incredibly moved by the courage, the determination” of those fighting against Moamer Kadhafi.
Canada had already recognised Libya’s National Transitional Council before Baird’s visit, which came as NATO allies marked the 100th day of their bombing campaign in the country.
Ottawa has contributed six F-18 fighter planes and a frigate and the NATO mission is led by a Canadian.
During the trip, which was unannounced, Baird welcomed the NTC’s vision for the country and said that “Canada wants to be a part of that important transition.”
Baird became Canadian foreign minister in May, tapped by returning Prime Minister Stephen Harper.