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Cameron, Sarkozy salute 'free Libya', warn against Gaddafi

world Updated: Sep 15, 2011 23:10 IST

David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy saluted a "free Libya" Thursday but warned that Muammar Gaddafi remained a danger, on the first visit by foreign leaders to the North African nation since the despot was toppled.

The British premier and French president arrived in Tripoli to a heroes' welcome and were mobbed when they later flew into Benghazi, bastion of the rebel movement that overthrew Gaddafi, with Sarkozy earning the loudest cheers.

The diplomatic visit came even as forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC) moved to gates of the fallen dictator's hometown of Sirte.

"It is great to be in a free Benghazi and in a free Libya," Cameron said as jubilant crowds cheered them, flashing V-for-victory signs. "The people of Britain salute your courage."

Britain's special representative to Libya Dominic Asquith (L) receives a Union Flag from British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sarkozy said: "Friends in Benghazi we ask one thing. We believe in a united Libya, not a divided Libya." "You wanted peace, you wanted liberty, you want economic progress. France, Great Britain and Europe will be on the side of the Libyan people."

Before flying to Benghazi, they gave a news conference in Tripoli, and Cameron pledged help to bring the fugitive former strongman to book.

"We must keep on with the Nato mission until civilians are all protected and until this work is finished," Cameron said. "We will help you to find Gaddafi and to bring him to justice."

Cameron and Sarkozy are immensely popular among ordinary Libyans for their role in ending the fugitive strongman's 42 years of iron-fisted rule.

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