Ex-Rep. Weldon to visit Gadhafi

Former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) will meet with Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya and plans to urge him to step down from power.

From the capital city of Tripoli, Weldon penned an op-ed in The New York Times saying that engagement with the Libyan regime is the only way to help the country successfully move forward without its leader, who has ruled for four decades.

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"The world agrees that Col. Gadhafi must go, even though no one has a plan, a foundation for civil society has not been constructed and we are not even sure whom we should trust. But in the meantime, the people of Libya deserve more than bombs," he said. 

Weldon said that he was invited by Gadhafi to meet and the Obama administration and members of Congress are aware of his trip. He would be one of the first Americans to talk directly with the Libyan leader since the rebellion against him began.

Obama has said that he wants Gadhafi to leave power, but has warned that he would not look to achieve that goal through military means.

In his op-ed, the former congressman laid out a three-part plan for succession: convince Gadhafi to step down through diplomatic means, obtain a United Nations-monitored cease-fire between government and rebel forces and identify leaders who, "if not perfect, are pragmatic and reform-minded and thus best positioned to lead the country."

Weldon suggested that Gadhafi's son Saif could play a "constructive" role in a transition.

"There is no question that America should play a critical role in helping the Libyans build a new government. Sadly, in the years since my first trip, Washington has squandered many opportunities to achieve that goal without bloodshed," Weldon wrote. "And unless we begin to engage with the country’s leaders — even those close to Col. Gadhafi — we may again lose our chance to help build a new Libya."

Weldon previously met with Gadhafi in 2004 after the Libyan leader agreed to give up nuclear weapons.