U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is congratulating Libya for holding is first nationwide vote in decades. She says the U.S. stands ready to help the North African nation become a free and peaceful democracy.

Speaking Sunday in Japan, Clinton called the Libyan vote a “historic milestone.”

She says that “after more than four decades of authoritarian rule, men and women from every corner of Libya are determining their own future”

She says it’s the “will of the people, not the whim of the dictator.”

Ms. Clinton acknowledges there is hard work ahead for Libyans to unify their country and ensure it becomes a peaceful, democratic state. The U.S. and its NATO allies helped Libyans oust dictator Muammar Qadhafi last year, and Clinton pledged continued American support to the country.

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