Panetta: No clear plan on end to Libya mission

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BRUSSELS — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says there is no clear set of conditions in Libya that will trigger an end to the combat mission, but the operation will not be over if serious fighting and threats to the population continue.

He says that after two days of meetings, NATO ministers agree that the decision will depend on whether forces loyal to ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi are still able to attack civilians and whether the opposition forces are able to provide security for the country as it moves to democracy.

His comments made clear that there is no definitive end to the mission, and did not rule out additional extensions to the operation, which is set to end in late December.

Panetta says that if serious threats to the population continue, the mission will go on.

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