Cablegate: Gol Postpones Isn Visit to Libya's Rabta Site, Trilateral
DE RUEHTRO #0119 0451513
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 141513Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3079
INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 0730
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE IMMEDIATE 0074
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 3558
S E C R E T TRIPOLI 000119
DEPT FOR ISN/CBC (MAHLEY, FERGUSON), NEA/MAG
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/14/2018
TAGS: PARM PREL LY CWC UK
SUBJECT: GOL POSTPONES ISN VISIT TO LIBYA'S RABTA SITE, TRILATERAL
U.S.-U.K.-LIBYA TALKS REF: A) STATE 9463, B) GODFREY-FERGUSON EMAIL 02/12/08 CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1.(S) Per ref A, post has been working with the General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation (MFA-equivalent) to coordinate ISN DAS Mahley's proposed visit to Libya February 17-20, in conjunction with a parallel visit by a U.K. team, to discuss chemical weapons-related issues, including modification of the Rabta plant conversion proposal, and missile issues related to replacement of Libya's SCUD-B missile force.
2.(S) As reported ref B, post received a diplomatic note February 12 indicating the GOL's position that tri-lateral U.S.-U.K.-Libya talks undertaken during the visit be restricted to chemical weapons issues and not/not include discussions of missile issues. MFA Americas Desk Director Muhammad Matari subsequently called P/E Chief Feb 13 and said that MFA Secretary for European Affairs Abdulati Obeidi had instructed that the proposed visit to the Rabta site (which was to include U.S., U.K., Italian, French and Russian representatives) and related trilateral U.S.-U.K.-Libya talks be postponed altogether. Conveying points from Obeidi, Matari said the GOL's initial proposal had been for a site visit to Rabta; the GOL was "not ready" for discussions on other issues and preferred that DAS Mahley's be postponed. Post subsequently received a diplomatic note formally conveying the GOL's points (text below at para 5).
3.(S) U.K. Ambassador Sir Vincent Fean told CDA February 13 that in his meeting with Obeidi earlier the same day, Obeidi underscored that the GOL was "keen" to facilitate a technical visit focused on the Rabta facility and modification of the enclosure surrounding it. Obeidi told Fean the U.S. then requested that the scope of the visit be broadened to include other TSCC-related issues, which the GOL was not prepared to discuss at this time. (Note: The U.K. request to the GOL for trilateral meetings separate from the Rabta site visit actually pre-dated our request. End note.) Pressed by Fean, Obeidi said Libya was not ready to discuss WMD and missiles with the UK and U.S. "while other issues were still outstanding". Fean interpreted Obeidi's remark to be a reference to the terrorism-related legal claims against Libya in the United States and recent legislation (section 1083 of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, aka the "Lautenberg amendment") making it easier for U.S. plaintiffs to seize Libyan government assets in such cases.
4.(S) Comment: The GOL's cancellation of the ISN visit and Obeidi's remarks to Fean are a clear signal of dissatisfaction with U.S. terrorism-related lawsuits against Libya (i.e., La Belle, UTA, Pan Am 103) and the passage and signing into law of the "Lautenberg amendment." End comment.
5.(S/NF) Begin text of diplomatic note: The General People's Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation (International Organizations Office) presents its compliments to the U.S. Embassy in the Great Jamahiriya and, referring to the Embassy's note #092/08 dated February 4, 2008 regarding a prospective visit to Libya by a U.S.-U.K. team February 17-19, 2008 to conduct trilateral talks on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Prohibition Convention (CWPC) and to visit the Rabta plant, has the honor to inform the esteemed Embassy of the postponement of this visit to a later date that will be arranged in diplomatic channels. The GPCFLIC avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the esteemed U.S. Embassy the assurances of its highest consideration. Tripoli, Libya February 13, 2008 End text of diplomatic note
STEVENS 0 02/14/2008