Washington, 13 March 2103:
In his first visit to Washington as Libyan Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan was told by President Barack Obama today, Wednesday, of US support for Libya.
The President “expressed the United States’ support for the Libyan people and their government as they continue their democratic transition”, according to White House spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.
Security in Libya is believed to have topped the agenda at their meeting. The two leaders “discussed how the United States and Libya could work together, along with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya and our partners in the international community, to strengthen Libya’s government institutions and particularly to enhance security and the rule of law,” Hayden said.
The failure to find and bring to justice the culprits behind the 11 September last year attack against the US mission in Benghazi in which US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American diplomatic staff were killed was also discussed, she said.
“The president reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks against the US mission in Benghazi are brought to justice, and stressed the importance of Libya’s cooperation with the ongoing investigation,” Hayden added.
Later Zeidan met with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who called the visit “historic” because the Prime Minister represented Libya’s first democratically elected government in more than 40 years. The US, he said, joined “in celebrating what has been accomplished in Libya: the liberation of a country that had been under the yoke of a dictator for decades”.
The Libyan people, he said, had begun “to chart the course for their own future, and they’re defining it”. There were challenges, he said, but the US understood them and would continue to stand with Libya “during this difficult time of transition”.
Referring to the decisions at last month’s ministerial meeting in Paris, he noted that the US had pledged more assistance for security reform in Libya “with particular emphasis on border security, rule of law, building a professional security force and institutions, and the control or destruction of chemical weapons that have been left over from the old regime.
“We will look for other ways to work together as we go forward in order to make Libya safer and to live up to its full potential.”
On the economic front, he said that the US government would encourage American businesses “to take a look at Libya”. It wanted to work “to promote the kind of stability that will make investment in Libya even more attractive”.
Libya, he said, has “great, intelligent people, not that big a population, and wealth through the oil resources. Libya is a country that can win this future, and we believe in that”.
Thanking the US for the role it played in supporting the Libyan revolution, Zeidan said it was “very important” in ensuring its success.
He confirmed the importance of the new Libya-US relationship which would be “at the best level” in various areas of cooperation: political, economic, and education and oil and the area of security cooperation. The latter was “most important” if there were to be security and stability in the Middle East and North Africa and in the .world.
Paying tribute to the late Chris Stevens, he said that he had paid “great services to our country” He was “a very dear friend and a friend of the Libyan people” and Libyans had lost “a great human being” in his death. Libya would work closely with the US to discover the criminals behind his killing and bring them to justice. [/restrict]