TRIPOLI, Libya -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair met today with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and said after the historic talks that the former pariah state could become an important partner in the war on terror.
Blair also offered military links to the North African state, saying he would appoint a British general as defense coordinator for Tripoli "that will offer Libya a chance of a new military relationship with the UK." Blair would provide no other details.
Blair praised Gadhafi's progress in dismantling chemical, nuclear and biological programs under a December plan negotiated by the United States and Britain and viewed as a strong signal to the rest of the Arab world of the need for moderation.
"Libya's voluntary and open implementation of the decision ... gives us real hope we can build a new relationship with it for the modern world," Blair said.
"I was particularly struck by Colonel Gadhafi's ... recognition that Libya's own future is best secured by a new relationship with the outside world and of a common cause ... in the fight against al-Qaida extremism and terrorism."
Blair met with Gadhafi for 90 minutes, becoming the first British leader to sit down with the Libyan boss since he seized power in 1969. The session marked a major step in Libya's return to the mainstream international community.