- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006

Libya disappointed

Libya expected more from the United States when it renounced terrorism and surrendered its weapons of mass destruction three years ago, according to Libya’s top diplomat in Washington.

“This is not what Libya expected. I’m very disappointed,” Ali Aujali, charge d’affaires of the Libyan Embassy, told a crowded forum at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last week.

The United States has not appointed an ambassador to Libya. The U.S. visa process continues to require Libyans to wait several months for approval, while Libya can issue visas within a week, Mr. Aujali said.

Libya is especially upset by a congressional move last week to block the further normalization of relations with the United States until the North African nation pays all compensation to the families of the 270 victims of Pan Am Flight 103, which was brought down by a Libyan bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

“We thought Lockerbie was resolved,” Mr. Aujali said.

The House Appropriations Committee voted to withhold funds for the restoration of diplomatic relations until Libya pays the Pan Am Flight 103 families an additional $2 million each.

The families already have received $8 million each under a settlement between the families and the Libyan government. However, Libya withheld the rest of the funds when it was on a U.S. list of terrorist nations. The State Department removed Libya from the list last month.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on May 15 announced the restoration of relations after a 25-year break. Her announcement carried a 45-day public comment period, which ends today.

The U.S. Liaison Office in Tripoli, Libya, was designated an embassy May 31, and Libya also upgraded its representative’s office in Washington to full embassy status last month. Mr. Aujali remains the diplomat in charge, instead of a fully accredited ambassador, because Libya is unlikely to appoint an ambassador until Washington does.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs C.David Welch told the Carnegie forum that the naming of ambassadors will be “a sign of the significance with which we take this relationship.”

The forum was sponsored by the U.S.-Libya Business Association and the Middle East Institute.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Georgi Petrosian, foreign minister of the self-styled Nagorno Karabakh Republic, and Ashot Ghulian, speaker of the national assembly. They meet Bush administration officials and members of Congress on their weeklong visit.

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, who holds a 10 a.m. press conference at the National Press Club to release the U.N. 2005 drug report.

Tomorrow

• Defense Minister Brendan John Nelson of Australia, who meets Vice President Dick Cheney and addresses the American Enterprise Institute. He meets Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday.

• Gary Mar, minister for international and intergovernmental relations of Alberta, Canada; Anne McLellan, former deputy prime minister of Canada. They participate in a conference on U.S.-Canada relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

• Mazen al Ma’ayta, general secretary of the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions, who speaks at a labor forum sponsored by the AFL-CIO and the Center for American Progress.

Wednesday

• Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan, who meets President Bush on Thursday.

• Foreign Minister Karel De Grucht of Belgium, who discusses Belgium’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe at an 11 a.m. briefing in room 2359 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Thursday

• Alex King, deputy leader of the County Council of Kent, England, who is preparing for Kent’s participation in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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