Clinton: Instead of Making Threats, Libya's Gadhafi Should Step Down

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that NATO's mission is on track, with pressure on Gadhafi mounting and rebel forces growing stronger.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton dismissed on Saturday a threat by Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi to attack Europe if NATO did not stop its airstrikes.

"Instead of issuing threats, Gadhafi should put the well-being and the interests of his own people first and he should step down from power and help facilitate a democratic transition that will meet the aspirations of the Libyan people," she said in Madrid.

Clinton said NATO's mission in Libya was on track, with pressure on Gadhafi mounting and the rebel forces growing stronger, CNN reported.

"We need to see this through, and we are in complete agreement that we will," she said, speaking alongside Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jiminez.

Gadhafi on Friday warned that Libyans "can one day take this battle to Europe" to target homes, offices, families, as legitimate military targets "like you have targeted our homes."

His threats came after France confirmed it had supplied weapons to the rebels in the western areas near Tripoli.

"We advise you to retreat before you face a catastrophe," Gadhafi said in an audio message through state television, addressing his supporters who had gathered in Tripoli's Green Square, carrying photographs of him and green flags.

On Saturday, the government ferried journalists to a small protest by Gadhafi's loyalists who were shouting slogans outside the UN office in Tripoli against the coalition airstrikes on Libya.

State television cited a military spokesman as saying that NATO strikes targeted a technical school in Tripoli Saturday and that technicians, engineers and students were in the school, but would provide no additional details.

Libya has repeatedly accused NATO of hitting civilian targets, claiming that more than 700 civilians have been killed since the airstrikes began in March.

NATO has recently intensified its attacks on Tripoli in a bid to increase pressure on Gadhafi.

It also stepped up its military pressure on Gadhafi's forces in western Libya, disrupting attempts to increase their attacks on civilians, the alliance said in a statement.

Since June 27, NATO's operations have resulted in the destruction of more than 50 military targets in the region between the Nafusa Mountains near the Libyan-Tunisian border to the city of Misurata.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam and his intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi for alleged crimes against humanity.

NATO marked 100 days of airstrikes on Libya on Monday. Its 13,460 sorties have helped bolster the rebels, who have been trying to reach the capital, where Gadhafi remains in control.

On Friday, NATO hit one military facility, three radars, two anti-aircraft guns, one surface-to-air missile launcher, four tanks and one command and control vehicle around Tripoli.

Its targets also included two tanks, one military storage facility and two armed vehicles in central and western towns.

The uprising to oust Gadhafi, who has been in power for 42 years, began in mid-February as protests turned into an armed conflict after the government's lethal crackdown on demonstrators.

Hillary Clinton AP 29.11.2010