Pro-War McCain Arrives in Libya to Meet Rebels

World | April 22, 2011, Friday // 14:37|  views

John McCain greets a Libyan rebel during a tour of Benghazi. The Republican senator is the most senior US official to visit the city. Photo by Getty Images

US Sentor John McCain, a strong advocate of stepping up military strikes to remove Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from power, arrived in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Friday morning, CNN reported.

McCain arrived a day after US Predator drones were deployed in the North African nation as part of the NATO-led military efforts there.

Several demonstrators waved American flags as a crowd of about 100 Libyans greeted the Arizona lawmaker.

Some chanted, "Thank you John McCain! Thank you Obama! Thank you America! We need freedom! Gaddafi go away!"

Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, deputy chairman of the opposition Transitional National Council, was among a group of rebel leaders who accompanied McCain on a visit to the city's Freedom Square.

"The American people support you very strongly, and we know it's necessary to help as much as we can," McCain told a woman who thanked him for US support.

The US lawmaker did not address the crowd as he toured the square Friday morning, but was expected to speak to reporters later in the afternoon.

McCain, the ranking member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, has argued that the US should step up efforts to end Gadhafi's nearly 42-year rule.

"We are not doing everything necessary to achieve our policy goals," McCain said last month after NATO took over enforcement of a no-fly zone. "I hope we don't learn a bitter lesson."

McCain describes himself as a "strong supporter" of US President Barack Obama's decision to take military action in Libya, but has argued for a tougher stance.

"Let's be honest: Our objective in Libya is regime change, whether the administration wants to call it that or not. ... Rather than playing a supporting role within NATO, America should be leading," McCain said at a committee hearing earlier this month.

"Our military should be actively engaged in degrading Gaddafi's forces in the field, which could significantly increase the pressure on his regime and the odds that it will crack."

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Tags: Muammar, McCain, John, Libya, Gaddafi, US


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