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Middle East Digest

Middle East Digest -- November 18, 2008

Bureau of Public Affairs
November 18, 2008

The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit daily press briefings.

From the Daily Press Briefing of November 18, 2008

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QUESTION: Has the Secretary met the – Qadhafi’s son yet, Seif

MR. MCCORMACK: No, she has not. David Welch has met with him. He is here on a private visit. And people have inquired as to, well, what are they going to talk about. Well, he’s a person that has an interest in Libya’s future and where Libya is headed. He’s going to have a variety of meetings here. You can check with the Libyan Embassy. I believe that ranges from – all the way from meeting with members of Congress to NGOs to Executive Branch officials.
QUESTION: But you have no plans for the Secretary to meet –

MR. MCCORMACK: No, I expect she probably will.


MR. MCCORMACK: She will. I’ll – again, I’ll check. You know, I didn’t look at her schedule that closely, but you know, she will – it’s this week. It’s this week. It’s either today or tomorrow. We’ll let you know exactly when it’s –

QUESTION: When it’s happened?


QUESTION: And also, if you could ask specifically the question of whether she raises human rights concerns with him.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it’s a private meeting. I’ll see what she wants to say about the meeting afterwards. She has raised human rights issues when she visited Tripoli. We as a government have and continue – and will continue to raise human rights issues.

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Look, the relationship with Libya has come a long way. But it has a long, long way to go, specifically in terms of freedoms, universally recognized freedoms in Libya. We’re going to continue to work on those issues. And I know it’s come up. Various individuals said, well, you know, you’ve given up a lot by having the Secretary visit Libya, you’ve given up a lot in terms of establishing normal diplomatic relations with Libya. Well, Libya has done much of what we have asked it to do to change the relationship. And in making these kinds of decisions, you have to say, can you effect change more by having a more normal relationship and thereby, you know, having a more reasonable expectation of success in terms of human rights, in terms of
having those universal freedoms in Libya or not. The decision that was made by the President and the Secretary in – you know, in part, that you can effect change more by having that more normal relationship. And Libya has demonstrated through its actions that it is willing to take tough steps in order to change the relationship.

QUESTION: Sean, just a –


QUESTION: You know, since she’s already met with the leader himself and it’s not really that much of a surprise that she would see his son, but surely you have a better reason for her meeting him than he’s a person who has interests – who has an interest in Libya’s future.


QUESTION: Presumably, all Libyans have an interest and she’s not meeting with every (inaudible) –

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. Look, of course, well –

QUESTION: Why? (Inaudible) more specifically, you know –

MR. MCCORMACK: He’s here – look, he’s here on a private visit. You can talk to –

QUESTION: And can you tell us what –

MR. MCCORMACK: Hold on, hold on.

QUESTION: He doesn’t have any official position, so –

MR. MCCORMACK: No, he does not.

QUESTION: Right. So –

MR. MCCORMACK: No, he does not.

QUESTION: But surely, there’s got to be a – there’s got to be another reason than he’s certainly a person who has an interest in Libya.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, of course. Of course. He is the leader of Libya’s son. Now, he does not hold an official government position. He’s head, I think, of the Qadhafi Foundation. So one would reasonably expect, given just those two facts, that he will have some influence over the course that Libya as a state pursues over the – you know, over the next period of time.

QUESTION: So always an open door.

MR. MCCORMACK: There we are.

QUESTION: Speaking of Libya.


QUESTION: Did the Libyan Government pay the $1.5 billion into the fund – compensation fund?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. I think it’s all there.

QUESTION: Halloween?


MR. MCCORMACK: What’s that?

QUESTION: It happened on Halloween, or that’s when you announced it.

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

QUESTION: That’s not what you’re asking.

QUESTION: Oh, oh, excuse me. You’re right. You’re right.

QUESTION: I’m asking whether the Libyan Government paid the $1.5 billion.

MR. MCCORMACK: The money is all there.


QUESTION: You raised the issue – you said that, you know, there’s still a long way to go with Libya in terms of human rights and other issues.


QUESTION: What about the case of Fathi al-Jahmi that the Secretary raised when she was there?

MR. MCCORMACK: We’re going to keep raising it. We’re going to keep raising it and try to affect the situation. It’s a – it’s one that is – certainly has her attention. She’s going to keep working on it.

QUESTION: But how far has she got in terms of – I mean, he’s still being held in a hospital room. Apparently, the conditions in the hospital room are quite dire, according to his brother. You know, cockroaches on his bed, he’s not allowed out.


QUESTION: It’s apparently a very difficult situation.


QUESTION: Do you have an update on the conditions he’s being held in, for example? Have you been inquiring?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t. I don’t, Sue. And you know, there are lots of people around the world who are activists for all the right things, for greater freedoms for people in their countries, who are – who suffer terrible injustices. And the United States is a beacon for those people, and we very often give voice to those people when they don’t have a voice. And we have a strong record going back over administrations, Republican and Democrat, for being that voice. And we’re going to continue being that voice for those people, and to work not only to improve their personal conditions, but also to further the causes that they are sacrificing for.

QUESTION: But did David Welch raise that particular case, for example, and others?

MR. MCCORMACK: I didn’t talk to him about the contents of the meeting.

QUESTION: Could you ask that, please?

MR. MCCORMACK: Sure, sure.

QUESTION: Where do things stand on Mr. Cretz’s nomination to be ambassador to Libya and on the funding for purchasing the land?

MR. MCCORMACK: Still pending up on the Hill. The Senate is in session for a brief period of time this week. They have a lot of business that they’re dealing with. And, obviously, what they deal with is their prerogative. We certainly hope that we can move Mr. Cretz’s nomination and associated issues forward. We’ll see.


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