US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her visit to Algiers on Saturday to call on Algeria to take a more . . .[restrict]positive approach to the new Libyan authorities, according to an official at the Algerian foreign ministry.
Clinton is on a Maghreb visit that has taken her to Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. She arrived in Rabat on Saturday evening. In Tunis, she participated in a “Friends of Syria” conference. Her visit to Algiers, where she had talks with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci, lasted just four hours
According to Algerian foreign ministry spokesman Omar Bilani, Clinton also called on Algeria to open its border with Morocco. It has been closed since 1994.
However, in what is being seen as a veiled warning to Algeria as well as Niger, NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil on Saturday said that Libya would reconsider it diplomatic relations with those neighbors who are protecting leading figures from the former regime.
Algeria is providing sanctuary to the Moammar Qaddafi’s widow Safia, his daughter Aisha, sons Muhammad and Hanibal and their families.
Niger is hosting Saadi Qaddafi. The authorities have suggested that he is being kept under house arrest in the country. However, that did not prevent him doing a TV interview with Al-Arabiya earlier this month.
Libya has twice demanded that Niger extradite him, most recently after his TV interview. The authorities in Niamey have refused. Libya has also demanded the extradition of the Qaddafi family from Algeria. That, too, has been refused.
Jalil said in a press conference in Tripoli on Saturday: “We stress that our relations with neighboring countries will be depend on them handing over criminals.” Future ties would be based “on the level of cooperation by these countries on this issue”.
Jalil accused unnamed neighboring countries for providing a “refuge for the enemies of the Libyan people and ignoring requests to surrender them to the Libyan prosecutor.”
“We will ensure a fair trial” to those pursued by the authorities, he said, warning that “the Libyan people will never forgive those who are reluctant to hand him over the criminals.”
Jalil also said the Libyan authorities had arrested people who were planning to launch terrorist attacks, supported by figures from the former regime who were based in neighboring countries. He did not specify which countries.
Earlier this week it was reported that three Egyptians had been arrested in Benghazi after guns and explosives were found in their possession. They accused of working for Huda Ben Amer, the former mayor of Benghazi and close associate of Qaddafi who is more notoriously known as ‘Huda the Hang-woman’. She is said to be now in Egypt.