Libya’s prime minister met Wednesday with President Obama and vowed that justice will be served in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi in which four Americans were killed.
“The president reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi are brought to justice, and stressed the importance of Libya’s cooperation with the ongoing investigation,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Mr. Obama and Mr. Zeidan discussed how their administrations can work with the international community to “strengthen Libya's government institutions, and particularly to enhance security and the rule of law,” Ms. Hayden said, adding that the president also expressed U.S. support for Libya during its democratic transition.
Following his White House meeting, Mr. Zeidan went to the State Department, where he told Secretary of State John F. Kerry that his government will “work with the U.S. government to reach the truth” in the investigation.
The terrorists “must be put to trial,” Mr. Zeidan said. “As much as we regret the killing … we are keen on reaching the truth and to see that justice is achieved.”
Mr. Kerry said Libya is going through a difficult period in its transition, but that the U.S. will continue to stand by the North African nation. He said the U.S. “must not walk away from the difficult work that Chris Stevens and his cohorts were so dedicated to.”
“The Libyan people have begun to chart the course for their own future, and they’re defining it,” Mr. Kerry said. “Obviously, there are challenges ahead and we understand that, from building political consensus to strengthening the security and protecting human rights, and growing the Libyan economy.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama announced his decision to appoint Deborah Jones as U.S. ambassador to Libya. Ms. Jones, a scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute, served as U.S. ambassador to Kuwait from 2008 to 2011.
The investigation into the Benghazi attack has been hamstrung by the Libyan government’s lack of control over the eastern part of the country. U.S. officials have given the Libyan government a list of suspects in the attack, but the government has been unable to arrest the men.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Tuesday that, while Libyan authorities have been willing to cooperate in the investigation into the attack, “it is exceptionally difficult — particularly in eastern Libya, in Benghazi.”
“And that has been a hurdle that we have not seen elsewhere when we’ve had similar incidents,” said Mr. Mueller, who visited Libya in January to coordinate the investigation with Libyan authorities.
In January, a Tunisian judge released Ali Harzi, the only man arrested in connection with the attack, citing a lack of evidence.
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Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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