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Embassy Row

- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2010

'ENVOY OF DEATH'

The Libyan foreign minister — linked to the Lockerbie bombing and an attack on a disco in Berlin that killed American soldiers and expelled from Britain for plotting to kill Libyan dissidents — will be honored this week in Washington by U.S. and Arab business executives.

Musa Kousa is scheduled to discuss a recent Commerce Department mission to Libya and the new U.S.-Libyan trade framework agreement when he attends a reception in his honor sponsored by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce on Thursday at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

Mr. Kousa's terrorist background extends to the 1980s when he was accused of sending hit men around the world to kill critics of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. In London, he was known as the "envoy of death" when he was the head of the Libyan diplomatic mission to Britain, according to reports in the London newspapers, the Times and the Independent.

After his expulsion from Britain in 1980, Mr. Kousa went on to serve as Mr. Gadhafi's top spymaster for 15 years. Mr. Kousa was reportedly complicit in the 1986 Berlin disco bombing that led to President Reagan's decision to attack Mr. Gadhafi's residence in Tripoli. He was also accused of plotting the bombing of Pan Am flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. One hundred ninety victims were Americans.

After President George W. Bush overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003, Mr. Gadhafi announced his decision to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction and set Libya on a path that led to a restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States three years later.

Mr. Kousa also was involved in Libya's effort beginning in 2003 to give up its covert nuclear arms program in a joint U.S.-British operation that led ultimately to normalized relations.

The refurbishment of Mr. Kousa's image began with his appointment as Libya's envoy to talks that led to a $2.7 billion compensation fund for the relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie disaster.

The foreign intelligence chief is also reported to have given London information on spies operating in Britain.

"He cooperates with British and American intelligence agencies in their fight against a mutual enemy — Islamic terrorism," the Times of London reported.

The United States removed its diplomats from Libya in 1979 after a mob set fire to the American Embassy and severed diplomatic relations in 1981.

President Obama sent career Foreign Service officer Gene A. Cretz to serve as U.S. ambassador in Tripoli in December 2008. Libyan Ambassador Ali Suileiman Aujali presented his credentials to Mr. Obama in January 2009.

CURRYING FAVOR

President Obama is so intent on dispelling doubts about his commitment to India that he plans to attend a reception this week at the State Department for Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna.

Mr. Obama "will attend and deliver remarks" at the reception on Thursday, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to mark the opening of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, the White House said in announcing the unusual decision. On most occasions when U.S. presidents have no formal talks scheduled with high-ranking foreign officials, they drop in on meetings the visitors hold with top White House officials.

The White House also reported that Mr. Obama telephoned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the Strategic Dialogue, which runs from Tuesday through Friday.

"President Obama and Prime Minister Singh also expressed their hope that the dialogue will initiate a regular exchange of ideas and discussions between their government," a White House spokesman said.

Although Mr. Obama hosted Mr. Singh for his first state dinner, Indian analysts have been skeptical of his policies toward India, complaining that he is concentrating more on U.S. relations with Pakistan and "sidelining, downgrading and undermining ties with New Delhi," as the Times of India noted.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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