- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2011


The career ambassador whom Moammar Gadhafi appointed to replace diplomatic defectors at the United Nations is well-known in Washington, where he wooed oil executives and foreign policy analysts after the Libyan dictator ditched his weapons of mass destruction.

In a well-tailored suit and with a Cheshire-cat smile,Ali Abdessalam Treki spent the winter and summer of 2004 on a charm offensive to persuade American policymakers that Col. Gadhafi was sincere in his desire to normalize relations with the United States.

At the time, Mr. Treki was Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations, the same position Col. Gadhafi wants him to resume to replace Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham.

Mr. Shalgham and deputy U.N. envoy Ibrahim O. Dabbashi denounced Col. Gadhafi for his bloody offensive against government protesters. They claim they are still the legitimate U.N. representatives of the Libyan people, but not the Libyan dictator.

Col. Gadhafi created a diplomatic dilemma for the United Nations on Friday, when he announced that he was replacing Mr. Shalgham with Mr. Treki. The United Nations already had imposed sanctions on Col. Gadhafi and other Libyan leaders, and suspended Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

However, Col. Gadhafi claims he is still in charge of Libya and has the right to appoint diplomats to represent his government.

If Mr. Treki returns to New York as Libya’s U.N. ambassador, he will be in familiar territory, where he strongly defended Col. Gadhafi and once earned a rebuke from the U.N. secretary-general for accusing Jews of running New York’s pornography industry.

Mr. Treki served three terms as Libya’s envoy before going back to Tripoli in the summer of 2004 as Col. Gadhafi’s top foreign policy adviser.

His last assignment as U.N. ambassador was to present a makeover of the mercurial Col. Gadhafi, long associated with supporting terrorists, after the Libyan leader renounced his programs to develop biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

Col. Gadhafi scrapped those programs in the wake of the U.S. overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who also was suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction.

“This is a good gesture to prove we are sincere,” Mr. Treki told Embassy Row in February 2004.

Mr. Treki was in Washington on a groundbreaking mission, as the United States was re-establishing diplomatic relations with Libya. He was the first Libyan diplomat to attend a National Prayer Breakfast.

“We need the friendship of the American people,” he said in the interview.

In July, he returned to Washington as the guest of honor at a dinner hosted by Idriss Jazairy, then Algeria’s ambassador to the United States. The soiree on a sultry summer evening was crowded with American oilmen eager to do business with Libya.

After addressing the guests at the end of a five-course meal, Mr. Treki apologized for talking too much.

“Sorry to be so long,” he said. “Maybe it’s because I’m used to speaking at the United Nations.”


Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Afghan-Canadian filmmaker Nelofer Pazira, who discusses women in war zones and screens a trailer for her documentary “Act of Dishonor” in a forum at the Canadian Embassy.


• Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez of El Salvador, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail [email protected]

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