Region | Libya

Gaddafi aides met US envoy in final weeks

New documents show aides mounted last-ditch effort to weaken American support for revolutionary movement

  • By Joby Warrick
  • Published: 00:00 September 2, 2011
  • Gulf News

Washington: Top aides to Muammar Gaddafi met with a former high-ranking US diplomat in the regime's final weeks as the Libyan leader mounted a last-ditch effort to undermine the revolutionary movement and weaken American support for the campaign to oust him, newly disclosed documents show.

Advisers to Gaddafi secured a meeting in early August with a former high-ranking State Department official, who allegedly offered advice on how Gaddafi could improve his standing with the West as he sought an end to the conflict, according to papers unearthed from the ransacked headquarters of Libya's intelligence agency.

Gaddafi's aides separately tried to enlist the help of a US congressman in a plan to discredit the recolutionary movement, the documents show. There is no evidence in the papers that the effort advanced beyond the planning stage.

The documents, discovered by an Al Jazeera reporter and posted on the news organisation's website on Wednesday, appear to shed light on Gaddafi's behind-the-scenes efforts to divide the West. Since the start of the Libyan uprising in February, Gaddafi aides repeatedly have sought to exploit ties with Western officials to gain advantage or even explore prospects for defecting.

Cairo meeting

One document posted by Al Jazeera purports to be minutes of an August 2 meeting in Cairo between two Gaddafi aides and David Welch, the State Department's top diplomat for the Middle East during the George W. Bush administration.

Efforts to reach Welch for comment through his employer, Bechtel, were not successful. Welch, whose career included negotiating a 2008 US-Libya accord that led to Libyan compensation for American victims of terrorist acts, was quoted as warning the Libyans "as an informed friend" that the conflict had reached a critical stage that required "seriousness and responsibility".

Welch reportedly suggested that Gaddafi improve his chances by providing Western intelligence agencies with details about Al Qaida in eastern Libya and by helping to secure missiles to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists.

But he also is quoted as advising the Libyans to call attention to the West's "double standard" in its varied response to repression in Libya and Syria. Gaddafi "would lose nothing from exploiting the situation there in order to embarrass the West," the document quoted him as saying.

The State Department said that Welch's travel to Cairo was a private affair and that the former diplomat did not speak for the government.

— Washington Post

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