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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI110, SENIOR MFA ADVISER OBEIDI ON BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI110 2009-02-09 09:09 2011-02-01 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
Appears in these articles:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wikileaks-files/libya-wikileaks/
TelegramC O N F I D E N T I A L   TRIPOLI   00000110 
VZCZCXRO6094
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0110 0400942
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 090942Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4433
INFO RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 4958
C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000110 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  2/8/2019 
TAGS: PREL PHUM ABLD LY
SUBJECT: SENIOR MFA ADVISER OBEIDI ON BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP, 
COMPENSATION FUND, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND NEC 
 
REF: A) TRIPOLI 99, B) TRIPOLI 49 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 

1. (C) Summary:  In a February 5 courtesy call on MFA Secretary for European Affairs Abdelati al-Obeidi, the Ambassador stressed that the U.S. remained committed to expanding the U.S.-Libya relationship and encouraged the GOL to make concrete progress on the bilateral agenda in the early months of the new U.S. Administration. (Note: Obeidi has previously served as Prime Minister-equivalent and Foreign Minister-equivalent, and is an influential regime figure.  End note.) Proceeding with the proposed visit of U.S. Africa Command's General Ward and finalizing an Education and Cultural Agreement and Trade and Investment Framework Agreement would be positive steps that would constitute a platform from which to further expand future bilateral engagement.  The Ambassador sought the MFA's support in securing GOL approval for the U.S. to purchase land on which to build a New Embassy Compound (NEC).  He expressed strong concern about a recent meeting between international oil companies (IOCs) and Prime Minister-equivalent al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi and National Oil Corporation Chairman Shukri Ghanem regarding contributions to the U.S.-Libya claims compensation fund (ref A) and reminded Obeidi that the U.S. would not countenance pressure on U.S. companies to contribute to the fund.  End Summary.  

2. (C) Obeidi welcomed the Ambassador to Libya, saying that the GOL was ready to work with the United States to re-build the relationship.  Acknowledging that Libya and the U.S. would not always see eye to eye on developments in the world, he advised the Ambassador that when the GOL appeared to be blaming Washington, it was actually calling on the U.S. as a "superpower and founding member of the United Nations" to help solve important international problems. (Comment:  Likely a reference to the GOL's criticism of the USG position regarding Israeli attacks in Gaza.  End comment.)   Obeidi said the GOL was ready to move forward on the pending agreements; the expected visit of National Security Adviser Mutassim al-Qadhafi to Washington in April represented a potential opportunity to finalize and sign those.  

3. (C) On the NEC site search, the Ambassador said that GOL permission for the USG to buy a site would be an important signal of GOL intent with respect to its future relationship with Washington.  Obeidi said the GOL supports the establishment of a new U.S. Embassy facility in Tripoli and offered that there was internal discussion within the GOL regarding USG ownership of the site versus a long-term lease.  

4. (C)Obeidi, who was a lead negotiator on the claims compensation issue, appeared to be unaware of the PM's meeting with the oil companies regarding contributions to the fund.  He expressed understanding for the PM's continuing efforts, saying the GOL had expected companies to contribute to the fund and had been disappointed that none had done so to date.  He agreed to follow up with NOC chairman Shukri Ghanem to underscore the Ambassador's warning that overtly pressuring U.S. companies with potential consequences represented an ominous turn and crossed a USG redline.  

5. (C) In a probable reference to the Ambassador's January 14 interview with Reuters, Obeidi suggested that the Ambassador avoid discussing sensitive human rights issues in the press; such matters were best handled in private channels (see ref B for details on the GOL's earlier demarche on this subject).  He said the GOL would welcome a dialogue on human rights and suggested that the U.S. send a delegation to Tripoli to initiate the talks. (Comment: A suggestion the GOL has floated before, but never taken steps to facilitate.  End comment.)  The Ambassador responded that he was mindful of the sensitivities of discussing political topics in the press, but had only expressed U.S. policy that was well-known and had been publicly stated before.  The Ambassador welcomed Obeidi's offer to begin a human rights dialogue, and agreed to convey the invitation to Washington.  

6. (U) Ambassador also handed Obeidi the President's letter to al-Qadhafi replying to the latter's expression of congratulations on the President's election.  The contents of the letter featured prominently in the Libyan press the following day.  

7. (C) Comment:  While his primary focus is on managing Libya's relations with Europe and Russia, Obeidi enjoys a direct line to senior regime officials (including Muammar al-Qadhafi) and by some accounts is more influential on key issues than the foreign minister.  He closely tracks the relationship with the U.S. and is a strong proponent of closer U.S.-Libyan ties.  Post intends to move forward on the NEC this week with a request to the GOL to approve an initial set of five potential NEC sites.  On the offer to host a human rights delegation, Post recommends testing the MFA's long-stated willingness to facilitate same, with the caveat that we should be consistent in emphasizing that the GOL's interlocutors of first instance are and should remain the Ambassador and Emboffs.  End comment.  CRETZ