Cablegate: Uk -Libya Relations - in Limbo
DE RUEHLO #0450 0561751
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 251751Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5094
INFO RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0299
C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 000450
NEA/MAG FOR NARDI AND KALMBACH
EO 12958 DECL: 02/23/2020
TAGS PGOV, PREL, LY
SUBJECT: UK -LIBYA RELATIONS - IN LIMBO
REF: TRIPOLI 137
Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Greg Berry for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Poloff met with incoming Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) North Africa Director Philippa Saunders on February 23. During a conversation that focused almost entirely on Libya, Saunders explained that fear over how Tripoli will handle Megrahi’s eventual funeral remains a major concern and one that HMG continues to raise regularly. Under the direction of FCO MENA Director Christian Turner the UK Embassy in Tripoli is currently engaged in an effort to identify all possible UK &levers of influence8 with Tripoli. Unfortunately, &there aren,t too many,8 although she mentioned Tony Blair and a private doctor who has a personal relationship with the Gaddafi family. The effort partially originated from the assumption that there will be &maybe a 48-hour window if we,re lucky8 between Megrahi,s eventual death and a funeral and the FCO wants to ensure HMG is in a position to act quickly.
2. (C) Saunders noted that there is “very little political appetite” for engaging with Libya at the moment, further contributing to the sense of being in a holding pattern. She noted that she and the new UK Ambassador designate, along with UK Embassy Tripoli, would be working on developing a new Libya strategy which she predicted would be ready to share with a possible new government following the upcoming UK General elections (expected May 6). Saunders predicted the strategy would likely present a spectrum of engagement possibilities and the various threats associated with each.
3. (C) Saunders, who has only been in her position for a few weeks, said that Libya has taken, and she believes will continue to take, the majority of her time. Summing up the relationship, she described it as being “in limbo” and “lacking clarity” on several fronts. She lamented that the Swiss visa crisis (reftel) was taking most their embassy’s time, quickly adding her belief that the UK Embassy in Tripoli was closely engaged with our Embassy on the issue.
4. MINIMIZED CONSIDERED
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