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From Asia, Biden keeps quiet on Kadafi

August 22, 2011|By David Meeks
(Goh Chai Hin/Associated…)

Vice President Joe Biden says the U.S. has spent considerable time analyzing what could happen in Libya after Moammar Kadafi loses power, but he deferred to President Obama to outline the specifics of Washington’s potential role in the transition.

“A lot of it's been thought through,” said Biden, who is on a diplomatic tour of China, Mongolia and Japan. “Some of it’s a work in progress. And the president’s statement is pretty straightforward about everything from dealing with Kadafi, dealing with the opposition now in control, the basic standards we want to set.”

Aboard Air Force Two en route to Tokyo on Monday night, Biden said he has been in touch with the National Security Council and his staff regarding “the progress, what’s going on, where things are. But I just haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk with our folks. And the president’s already made a statement that I read. So for me to go beyond the statement at this point would be imprudent.”

Obama on Sunday night called for Kadafi to acknowledge that his government is out of power, and the president reiterated that the U.S. has recognized the Transitional National Council as the “legitimate governing authority in Libya.”

Obama said the council should “demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya. A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.”

Biden, who as vice president has built a reputation for offering candid comments that sometimes give the White House anxiety, was determined to avoid getting ahead of the administration’s message – on Libya, the economy or any other issue.

“I’ve learned as vice president: it’s a good thing not to scoop the president’s position on anything. It took me a while to learn it, but I learned it,” he said.

When asked whether the U.S. believes Kadafi, who is at large, is still in Tripoli, Biden said, “I’m not going to comment on that.”

david.meeks@latimes.com

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