Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Libya: US opens "liaison office"

The US yesterday opened a liaison office in Tripoli, renewing direct diplomatic ties with Libya after 24 years.

According to the story on the Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation website, Libya is to open a liason office in the US as well.

Libya still remains on the US government's list of state sponsors of terrorism and the State Department issued this travel warning yesterday ...
Although Libya appears to have curtailed its support for international terrorism, it may maintain residual contacts with some of its former terrorist clients.
The US says it's still investigating allegations that Ghaddafi had plotted to assassinate Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah. Spokesperson Ereli was questioned on this during yesterday's daily briefing ...
I'm not aware that, and I don't believe, the issue of the liaison office is going to be decided on [...] or is going to be held up until we can verify, one way or the other, these reports [of an assination plot].
Ghaddafi was reportedly questioned about the plot prior to the announcement yesterday. From the Associated Press report ...
Only a brief reference to the plot reports was contained in an announcement Monday in Tripoli by Assistant Secretary of State William J. Burns, after he held talks with Gadhafi.

Burns said only that he and J. Cofer Black, who heads the [State] department's office of counterterrorism, had discussed with the Libyan leader "recent public allegations regarding Libya and Saudi Arabia." (source)
In February of this year, the US resumed embassy activities in Libya under the protective power of the US interests section of the Belgian Embassy in Tripoli. At that time, the US invited Libya to open an interest section in Washington, which they didn't take advantage of.

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Definitions found in this handy document ...

Interest Section: The office responsible for protecting the interests of the United States, housed in a third country embassy, in a country with which the United States has no formal relations.

Liaison Office: The office responsible for protecting the interests of the United States prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations (or while diplomatic relations are suspended) between the United States and the host country.

Embassy: A diplomatic mission in the capital city of a foreign country headed by an Ambassador.

Consulate: A Foreign Service Post engaged primarily in consular work; officers assigned have consular titles. Consulates are usually constituent posts of an Embassy, either within the Embassy itself or in some other city in the foreign country. While consulates engage in routine reporting, they carry out no diplomatic or representational functions vis-à-vis the host government.

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Of the G7 countries, only the US didn't have diplomatic ties with Libya ... the Brits, Canadians, Germans, French, Italians and Japanese all have (and have had) embassies or consulates in Libya.

With Russia, it's G8 ... and I know Russia has had diplomatic ties with Libya and I think this shows they still do ... but I can't be sure cause I can't read Russian.