TRIPOLI, Libya, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The United States will help Libya develop a democratic government but won't dictate policy, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a visit to Tripoli Saturday.
Panetta met with interim Prime Minister Abd al-Raheem al-Keeb a day after the United Nations, the United States and other countries lifted economic sanctions on the country imposed during the final nine months of military dictator Moammar Gadhafi's regime earlier this year.
Panetta repeated a pledge he made a day earlier in Turkey about the United States' political non-interference intentions, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"The last thing you want to do is try and impose something on a country that has gone through what the Libyans have gone through," he said. "They have earned the right to determine their own future."
While the country still faces restive tribal political dissent since Gadhafi was killed in October, Panetta said there is international confidence it could be overcome.
"To the Libyan people let me say this: The blood you have spilled has earned you the right to determine your own future, to work through the security issues you are going to confront," he said.