Panetta becomes first defense chief to visit Libya

AP News
Posted: Dec 17, 2011 4:05 AM
Panetta becomes first defense chief to visit Libya

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has arrived in Tripoli, making history as the first Pentagon chief to ever set foot on Libyan soil.

Panetta's visit Saturday comes just after an eight-month civil war ousted Moammar Gadhafi and set the country on a rocky path to democracy.

The United Nations, the United States and Great Britain announced Friday they are lifting sanctions and unfreezing about 80 billion dollars in assets blocked during Gadhafi's reign.

Panetta will meet with members of the transitional government, and make an emotional visit to what historians believe is the gravesite of 13 U.S. sailors killed in 1804. Those deaths were caused by the explosion of the U.S. ship Intrepid, which was slipping into the Tripoli harbor to destroy pirate ships that had captured an American frigate.