LOS ANGELES: US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that Moamer Qadhafi's grisly death sent a message to dictators around the world that people long to be free.
Obama appeared on NBC's “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” as part of a west coast campaign and fundraising swing as he gears up his 2012 reelection bid and pressures Congress to pass his job-creating measures.
He said that Qadhafi, someone who for 40 years “terrorized his country and supported terrorism,” had been given ample opportunity to leave power and transition his nation towards democracy.
“He wouldn't do it and obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did,” Obama said, according to excerpts of the interview released by NBC.
“But I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that people long to be free, and they need to respect the human rights and the universal aspirations of people.”
The late Libyan strongman was buried in a secret location in the Libyan Desert amid international calls for a probe into how he died after he was captured alive by rebels - and then felled by a bullet to the head.
In the NBC appearance, Obama also professed to be paying little attention to the long series of fiery debates among Republican contenders vying for the chance to take him on in next year's presidential election.
“I'm going to wait until everybody is voted off the island,” he quipped in a reference to the “Survivor” reality show.
“Once they narrow it down to one or two, I'll start paying attention.” The president also had warm words for Hillary Clinton, his one-time bitter Democratic rival for the parties 2008 presidential nod, who is now his Secretary of State.
“I'm really proud of her,” Obama said. “She works as hard as anybody I've ever seen.
She is tenacious, She has been, I think, as good of a secretary of state as we've seen in this country. She's been outstanding.
Obama, who has won plaudits for his foreign policy leadership, even as he has been criticized for his stewardship of the lagging economy, also discussed the killing in a drone strike in Yemen of al Qaeda planner Anwar al-Awlaqi.
“This is a guy who was actively planning a whole range of operations here in the homeland and was focused on the homeland.
“And so this was probably the most important al Qaeda threat that was out there after Osama bin Laden was taken out.”