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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio, McCain in Libya to meet with opposition movement leaders



rubio_libya.jpgFlorida Sen. Marco Rubio arrived in Libya today, joining a small group of lawmakers for meetings with the former rebels who have ended the rule of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Rubio is to spend the day meeting with key officials, including members of the National Transitional Council, the opposition movement whose fighters overthrew Gadhafi last month. The trip includes Republican Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Mark Kirk.

On Wednesday, the lawmakers visited Malta and met with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to discuss Malta's "ongoing efforts to facilitate Libya's transition to democracy and life after Gadhafi," Rubio's office said.

A report by the website Malta Today said the senators expressed thanks for Malta's role in assisting the evacuation of hundreds of American citizens from Libya during the uprising in February.

Rubio backed the U.S. engagement in Libya and pushed for more involvement than the Obama administration was willing. The effort comes as other Republicans have called for a lower U.S. military presence abroad due to cost issues. Rubio, a member of the foreign relations committee, has said he has a strong interest in world issues -- an interest that would seem to dovetail with his political ambitions.

He projected a hawkish worldview during a recent speech at the Jesse Helms Center in North Carolina.

"Now I don't believe America has the power or means to solve every issue in the world," he said. "But I do believe there are some critically important issues where America does have a meaningful role to play ... If we refuse to play our rightful role and shrink from the world, America and the entire world will pay a terrible price."

Rubio will return to Florida on Friday night, his office said.

Photo provided by Rubio's office.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 29, 2011 4:30pm]


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