McCain says Congress backs expanding Libya ties-Jana
NO MENTION OF INTREPID - by former Navy pilot.
A United States Congress delegation led by Senator John McCain arrived Tripoli on Thursday morning in a two-day visit to Great Jamahiriya.
The delegation which also included Senator Joseph Lieberman, Senator Lindsay Graham, and Senator Susan Collins was welcomed at Ma'atiga International Airport by senior foreign affairs officials along with the staff of the American embassy in Tripoli.
The delegation visited Lepts Magna on Thursday, 160km east of Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast.
It also met with Libyan officials and discussed bilateral relations and cooperation between Libya and the USA.
The four American Senators are members of the Republican Party and are well know for their strong support of the state of Israel, its policies of occupation and its rejection of making peace with Palestinians.
The Senators have also been strong supporters of the American war on Iraq in which over one million Iraqi civilians have been killed so far, according to some media reports.
Some of Senator Lieberman principal political positions in his country include: "Iraq [war] was a heroic struggle against enemies of civilization; Saddam was a threat; we did the right thing by invading; Not an inch of difference from Bush on Iraq and Pushing Israel out of West Bank is taking sides.
Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:28am EDT
* McCain praises Gaddafi for peacemaking
* Congress would "back measures" to expand ties further
By Ali Shuaib
TRIPOLI, Aug 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Republican Senator John McCain praised Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi for his peacemaking role in Africa and said Congress would support expanding ties, Libyan state news agency Jana said on Friday.
U.S.-Libyan relations have dramatically improved since Tripoli's decision in December 2003 to give up its weapons of mass destruction programmes, with diplomatic ties resuming in June 2004 after a break of more than two decades.
"McCain and the delegation accompanying him confirmed the importance of expanding further the relations between Libya and the United States. The Congress would back the measures to be taken to achieve this aim," Jana said. It gave no details.
Since Washington ended its major sanctions on Libya, U.S. energy companies including ExxonMobil and Chevron have been active in Libya.
Jana made no mention of any comment by McCain, defeated by Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, about the possible release of Libyan agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, jailed in Britain for his role in blowing up a U.S. airliner in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Unconfirmed media reports this week said Scottish ministers were planning to release him on compassionate grounds because he is dying of prostate cancer.
McCain, heading a four-member Congressional delegation, held talks with Gaddafi's son Mouatassim, the powerful national security adviser, before meeting Gaddafi himself.
"Senator McCain and the delegation with him expressed their deep happiness to meet the leader and praised him for his wisdom and strategic vision to tackle issues of concern to the world and his efforts to sustain peace and stability in Africa," Jana said.
Gaddafi is the chairman of the African Union and attended the July G8 summit of world leaders in Italy, where he met and shook hands with Obama.
The United States designated Libya a "state sponsor of terrorism" in 1979, and President Ronald Reagan ordered Libyan assets in the United States frozen in January 1986.
Relations sank further when the United States blamed Libya for the deadly bombing of a Berlin disco frequented by U.S. military personnel. U.S. aircraft bombed Tripoli, Benghazi and Gaddafi's home in April 1986, killing his adopted infant daughter.
President George W. Bush formally ended the U.S. trade embargo in 2004, and Libya declared an end to confrontation with the United States in 2008.
But Gaddafi has complained the West has failed to pay back his country for its move to abandon its weapons programmes. (Editing by Alison Williams)
Friday, Aug. 14, 2009
US senators discuss military equipment for Libya
The Associated Press
TRIPOLI, Libya -- A delegation of U.S. senators led by John McCain met with Libya's leader Friday to discuss the possible delivery of non-lethal defense equipment.
The visit and Washington's offer of military equipment was another sign of the improving ties between the former longtime adversaries.
"We discussed the possibility of moving ahead with the provision of non-lethal defense equipment to the government of Libya," McCain said at a news conference. He gave no details on the kind of military equipment Washington is offering.
Abdel Magid Al Fergany
AP Photo - U.S Congressional Delegation from Washington D.C. Senator John McCain, second left, talks during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya Friday, Aug. 14, 2009, with Senator Joseph Lieberman, left, Senator Lindsay Graham, right, and Senator Susan Collins at the end of their visit to Tripoli.
A halting, five-year rapprochement between the two countries began in 2003 when Moammar Gadhafi renounced terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Earlier this year, Washington posted an ambassador to Libya for the first time in 36 years.
Senator McCain, however, said the U.S. remained concerned about Libya's record on human rights and political reform.
"As we move ahead with the many ways in which the United States and Libya can work together as partners, there remain areas where real work needs to be done," McCain said. "The status of human rights and political reform in Libya will remain a chief element of concern."
The U.S. State Department's 2008 human rights report on Libya says problems include reported disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests and the detention of political prisoners. The report also cites a lack of civil liberties, restrictions on freedom of religion and discrimination against women and ethnic minorities.
Still, McCain said, "ties between the United States and Libya have taken a remarkable and positive turn in recent years."
The American delegation also included Senators Joseph Lieberman, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham.