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Libyan rebel delegation set for first official US visit

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-12

Members of Libya's rebel Transitional National Council will visit Washington Friday, the White House has said, as the Obama administration considers forging stronger ties with the opposition to Libyan embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi.

AFP - A leading Libyan rebel figure Mahmud Jibril will visit the White House Friday for talks with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, during his first official visit to Washington, the White House said.

The visit comes as the Obama administration gradually steps up contacts with the opposition to Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi after seeking to better understand the movement before deciding on the extent of US assistance.

"National Security Advisor Tom Donilon looks forward to welcoming Dr. Mahmud Jibril and the delegation from the Libyan Transitional National Council to the White House on Friday afternoon," the White House said Thursday.

"This is Dr Jibril's first official visit to Washington as president of the Transitional National Council's Executive Bureau," the statement said.

The Libyan rebel movement is becoming increasingly well known in the capitals of nations policing a no-fly zone above Libya and leading assaults against Kadhafi's forces.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the leader of the rebel NTC was in London on Thursday.

Jibril, who handles foreign policy for the council, has also been meeting senior congressional figures and other administration officials in Washington.

Senator John Kerry who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said lawmakers were "eager to learn more about the opposition movement in Libya."

Unlike France, Italy and Qatar, the United States has not recognized the NTC. Washington says it wants to obtain a "clearer picture" of who they are first before deciding its next step.

A senior US envoy Chris Steens traveled to Benghazi in April to meet leading council members for talks on humanitarian assistance and the council's positions on democracy and human rights.

Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron Thursday met Jalil and invited Libya's rebels to open an office in London, their first in a foreign country, in a highly symbolic step for the movement.

Date created : 2011-05-12


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