CERNOBBIO, Italy — Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Sunday urged the international community and the new Libyan authorities to avoid making the same "big mistake" as in Iraq.
"If somebody used to work for the regime but has no blood on his hands, why destroy all the structure, all the apparatus of Libya like we've done in Iraq, making a big mistake?" he said.
In Iraq, after the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, the US administrator Paul Bremer's policy of sidelining all members of the former ruling party and dismantling the army put hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on the streets, swelling the ranks of the insurrection.
Frattini reiterated his confidence in "those that I consider the real leaders of the new Libya", the National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil and his number two Mahmud Jibril.
He insisted they could not be considered tainted because they had left the regime of Moamer Kadhafi "some time ago".
Frattini, speaking on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti Forum in Cernobbio, which brings together political and economic leaders on the shores of Lake Como, appealed to the international community to offer its help to the new Libyan rulers to combat any infiltration by extremists into the country's new government.
"The very important point is the effort to eradicate any kind of temptation of infiltrations of extremist organisations within the structure of government of the future Libya. We have to help Jibril strongly on that," he said.