U.S. Sends First Diplomat in More Than 20 Years; Envoy to Assist Disarmament Monitoring; Blair Planning Visit

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 11, 2004 | Go to article overview

U.S. Sends First Diplomat in More Than 20 Years; Envoy to Assist Disarmament Monitoring; Blair Planning Visit


Byline: David R. Sands, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The U.S. government has posted its first accredited diplomat to Libya since the two countries broke off diplomatic ties more than 20 years ago, the State Department confirmed yesterday.

The diplomat is stationed in the Belgian Embassy in Tripoli and is assisting U.S. expert teams monitoring promises by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to dismantle his nuclear- and other unconventional-weapons programs, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher revealed.

The posting is just the latest in a remarkable series of developments since U.S. and British officials won a pledge from Col. Gadhafi in December to abandon his weapons of mass destruction, allow international inspections and ease two decades of hostility with the West.

In London, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw and Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalqam held the highest level of contact between their two countries since the early 1980s. After the meeting, Mr. Straw said Libya was "making very good progress" and revealed that Prime Minister Tony Blair plans a trip to Tripoli in the near future.

"We are hoping very much that a visit can be arranged as soon as convenient," said Mr. Straw, adding that no date has been set. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the only Western leader to have visited Libya since the weapons breakthrough was announced Dec. 19.

Libya has been moving in recent years to end its isolation and escape international sanctions, many imposed after the bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The United States has not had a direct diplomatic presence in Libya since 1981, two years after a mob burned the American Embassy building in Tripoli as part of a wave of anti-U.S. demonstrations across the Muslim world.

Britain formally broke relations with Libya in 1984, after shots fired from inside the Libyan Embassy in London killed a British policewoman during an anti-Gadhafi protest. …

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U.S. Sends First Diplomat in More Than 20 Years; Envoy to Assist Disarmament Monitoring; Blair Planning Visit
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