Rice Meets Gadhafi On Historic Visit To Libya

(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

TRIPOLI, Libya - The United States and Libya sealed a historic turnaround after decades of terrorist killings, American retaliation, suspicions and insults with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's peacemaking visit Friday with Moammar Gadhafi, Libya's mercurial strongman.

"The relationship has been moving in a good direction for a number of years now and I think tonight does mark a new phase," Rice said following a traditional Muslim dinner — the evening meal that breaks the day's fast observed during the holy month of Ramadan — at at Gadhafi's official Bab el-Azizia residence. It is the same compound hit by U.S. airstrikes in 1986 in retaliation for a deadly Libyan-linked terrorist attack in Germany. The attack killed Gadhafi's baby daughter.

"We're off to a good start," Rice said with Libya's foreign minister at her side. "It is only a start, but I think, after many, many years, I think it's a very good thing that the United States and Libya are establishing a way forward."