3108/06: CONGRESSMAN LANTOS STRESSES BILATERAL ACHIEVEMENTS AND
REGIONAL CHALLENGES WITH LIBYAN OFFICIALS

Les saken: Advarte mot «for mye frihet» i Libya



S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TRIPOLI 000453

SIPDIS



STATE FOR NEA/MAG, NEA/ELA, NEA/IPA

LONDON FOR TSOU



E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/28/2016

TAGS: OREP, PREL, PTER, PGOV, LY

SUBJECT: CONGRESSMAN LANTOS STRESSES BILATERAL ACHIEVEMENTS AND

REGIONAL CHALLENGES WITH LIBYAN OFFICIALS



REF: A) TRIPOLI 11



CLASSIFIED BY: Elizabeth Fritschle, Pol/Econ Chief, United

States Liaison Office, DOS.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)





CLASSIFIED BY: Elizabeth Fritschle, Pol/Econ Chief, United

States Liaison Office, DOS.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)



1. (SBU) In a series of meetings with senior Libyan officials

during his August 22-24 trip to Libya, Congressman Tom Lantos,

ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee,

reviewed bilateral achievements since his first visit to the

country in January, 2004 and set new goals for enhanced future

cooperation. The Congressman, accompanied by Charge Berry, House

International Relations Committee (HIRC) Senior Professional

Staff Member Alan Makovsky, HIRC Professional Staff Member Mike

Beard, and Poloff, met with the Libyan Leader Moammar Qadhafi,

Director of the Qadhafi Development Foundation Seif Al-Islam

Qadhafi, Libyan Director of Military Intelligence Abdullah

Sanussi, Director of the External Security Organization Musa

Kusa, Secretary of the General Peoples Committee for Foreign

Liaison and International Cooperation (Foreign Minister

equivalent) Abdurrahman Shalgam, Secretary of American Affairs

Ahmed Fatouri and Secretary for European Affairs Abdelati Obeidi

of the General Peoples Committee for Foreign Liaison and

International Cooperation. The Congressman´s trip partially

overlapped with visit of Senator Arlen Specter (septel) and

several official meetings were combined.



2. (SBU) In all meetings with GOL interlocutors, the Congressman

stressed that the two major goals that he set in January, 2004

on his first trip to Libya had been achieved: the removal of

Libya from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism list and the

reestablishment of full diplomatic relations. His next goal is

to increase the number of Libyan students studying in America

from 150, the present figure, to 6,000 over the next three

years. He also emphasized the need of the GOL to enhance its

image and presence in the United States by either opening

additional consulates in cities like New York and Los Angeles,

or establishing honorary consulates. He used the Saudi Embassy

in Washington as an example of a country that has successfully

enhanced its image in America by investing considerable

financial resources in its Embassy.



THE LEADER, ONCE AGAIN, STRESSES WAHABI EXTREMISM

--------------------------------------------- ---



3.(C) On August 22 in his desert encampment on the outskirts of

Sirte, the Leader of the Revolution Moammar Qadhafi greeted the

entire delegation, but dedicated the majority of time to an

hour-long tjte-´-tjte with Representative Lantos focusing on

Wahabism in Saudi Arabia, which has become one of his standard

topics. The leader emphasized his anxiety over the spread of

religious fundamentalism in the Kingdom, citing a recent

supposed statement of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia that Saudi

students should be barred from attending university in the

United States. He also berated the spread of Wahabist thought

in mosques and schools inside and outside of the Kingdom. The

leader urged the US to call for "self determination" for tribal

groups of Saudi Arabia, who would presumably chose a government

other than the present monarchy. Qadhafi also lobbied for

support of his plan to create "Isratine" as the best solution

for lasting peace in the Middle East. He did not bring up any

aspects of the GOL´s bilateral relationship with the US during

the meeting.



4. (C) Congressman Lantos and Senator Specter were scheduled

for separate meetings with Qadhafi in Sirte. While Specter´s

delegation traveled by U.S. military aircraft to Sirte,

Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the General People´s Congress,



SIPDIS

Suleiman Shihumi, chartered a Air Libya plane from Mitiga

International Airport for the Lantos delegation. Shihumi

greeted Lantos warmly, facilitated the Qadhafi meeting, and

arranged for a official banquet with General Peoples Committee

delegates from the Sirte region. During the one-hour flight, an

Egyptian movie entitled "The Leader" starring screen favorite

Adel Imam was shown to the delegation and Libyan protocol

officers. Security personnel and a local translator confirmed

that many of the jokes in the movie, that obviously make fun of

a Middle Eastern dictator, could be aimed at Qadhafi or Mubarak,

including a scene showing disregard for members of the cabinet.

(Embassy Ccomment: It is unclear if this was to show that the

leader does in fact have a sense of humor about his monopoly on

political power, or that a certain degree of toleration exists

in Libya, or that the Libyans love a movie that pokes fun at

Egyptian politics -- if in fact the Libyans intended any message

at all. End Comment.)



CONCERNS OVER SAUDI WAHABISM AS SOURCE OF EXTREMISM AND

TERRORISM REITERATED

--------------------------------------------- --------------

-----------------



5. (S) Libyan Director of Military Intelligence Abdullah Sanussi

held a joint meeting with Congressman Lantos and Senator Specter

on August 23, calling for increased cooperation in all aspects

of our relationship, specifically technology and knowledge

transfer. In a theme similar to Representative Lantos´ last

meeting with Sanussi (ref A), he reiterated the leader´s deep

concern with Wahabism and the Saudi government´s purported link

to Al-Qaeda. Sanussi stated that after 9/11, the GOL was

perplexed by US behavior as they expected a "judgment day" for

Saudi Arabia, home to a majority of the highjackers, not an

invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Sanussi also took credit for

the GOL putting Osama bin Laden on an Interpol watch list in

1997, showing that they had an inkling of events to come far in

advance of 9/11.



6. (S) When Senator Specter pressed Sanussi for solid proof

linking Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden to the Saudi government,

Sanussi orchestrated a subsequent meeting between Congressman

Lantos and Mohamed Ismail, the Libyan national who was

imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for 10 months and charged with a plot

to assassinate then Crown Prince Abdallah. Ismail, who speaks

fluent English, is the son of a former Libyan diplomat, and was

educated abroad. For several years, he worked at Seif

Al-Islam´s Qadhafi Development Foundation, on various projects

such as negotiating the release of western hostages in the

Philippines. Ismail claimed that he worked closely with Saudi

opposition groups in London who tried to "create a free radio

station in Saudi Arabia" but was arrested on trumped up charges.

Ismail talked at length about "specialized treatment" that

Wahabi detainees receive in Saudi prisons, claiming that they

receive cash, and are being recruited to fight in Iraq.

(Embassy Comment: Embassy notes that testimony in a US court

differs considerably from this Libyan version of events. End

Comment.)



SENIOR OFFICIALS GIVE OPINIONS ON NEW EMBASSY COMPOUND

--------------------------------------------- ---------



7. (C) In meetings with Faturi, Obeidi, and FM Shalgam on August

23, Representative Lantos continuously pressed on the theme of a

need for a secure, efficient US Embassy chancery, calling the

lack of an Embassy his "biggest disappointment" with the state

of our current relationship, especially because it impedes the

issuance of visas. He stressed the need for "land with a clear

title," adding his hopes for the Libyan Embassy in Washington to

increase in size and scope. Shalgam expressed concern over

proposed NEC sites because they are "such a long drive from

downtown," instead arguing that a more proper place is the

"Shaat Club" located in downtown. (The British, Italian,

Turkish, and Egyptian Embassies are located in this area near

the waterfront). In a separate meeting, ESO Chief Kusa echoed

Shalgam´s worries, asserting that the proposed NEC site in

Farjan is "too open and vulnerable to attack. You should listen

to my advice. Anyone could attack and run away". Kusa also

argued for the idea of opening up a new Embassy in the Shaat

Club area and was not keen on the idea of an entirely new

Embassy compound. Per septel, Qadhafi expressed similar

concerns over U.S. plans to build a large NEC.



REGIONAL EVENTS -- VIEWS EXCHANGED ON HIZBALLAH AND LEBANON

--------------------------------------------- ------------



8. (C) Regional events in Lebanon and Israel accounted for much

of the conversation in meetings with GOL interlocutors. Sanussi

called Israel´s "excessive reaction" to Hizballah attacks "the

reason Nasrallah is a hero in the eyes of the people." Shalgam

stressed that people in the region were "very impressed" with

Hizballah´s ability to withhold Israeli military might for 32

days. He also warned that in order for the cease fire to last,

European nations must be willing to send more troops. Lantos

stressed that Hizballah has the intent of destroying Israel and

that the force employed by the Israeli army equaled the threat

of Hizballah to the nation of Israel. Throughout his meetings,

he repeatedly used the analogy that if a rebel force was

operating out of Canada and threatened US security, we would

clearly use heavy force in combating that threat.



IRAN MODEL VS LIBYA MODEL

-------------------------



9. (S) In an August 24 meeting with Director of External

Security Musa Kusa, Lantos called the difference between Iran

and Libya "monumental" and predicted that books will be written

about the historic decision Qadhafi took in giving up its WMDs.

While Kusa seemed to agree, he expressed worry over the

imbalance that was created with the changes in Iraq, tipping the

scales towards Iran. "Iran and Iraq used to balance each other

out...now, there is no balance." He said the Libyans were "sure

that the Iranians are enriching uranium and making a bomb,"

adding that events in Lebanon are really just an "Iranian-Syrian

game". He also expressed a concern about the estimated 300

Libyans aiding the insurgency in Iraq: "We can´t control our

own children. We are doing our best, but we uncover a new cell

everyday."

SOMALIA FALLING TO EXTREMISTS

-----------------------------



10. (C) Both Sanussi and Shalgam expressed a growing concern

with the deteriorating state of affairs in Somalia. Sanussi

said that the Taliban is running Somalia and in a short while,

it is bound to become another Afghanistan. Shalgam worried that

Somalia is being hurled "back into the Middle Ages" by the

current leadership and that the younger generation there is

easily seduced by Muslim extremists: "We won´t be able to

convince younger generation that their leadership is wrong."



MUBARAK NOT PLEASED WITH YOUNG QADHAFI´S SPEECH

--------------------------------------------- --



11. (C) Congressman Lantos began a meeting with Seif Al-Islam

Qadhafi, director of the Qadhafi Development Foundation, by

congratulating him on his speech earlier in the week that called

for significant political and economic reform, including

enhanced freedom of the press. "I am very proud of your speech,"

Lantos said of the two-hour monologue which was broadcast on

every radio and television station in the country. Seif

immediately noted that President Mubarak of Egypt called his

father, the leader, to express his displeasure with the speech,

saying it called for "too much change and too much freedom" and

warning that the country should be more conservative in its

approach to change. Seif claimed he does not know what his

father´s reply to Mubarak was. (Embassy Comment: Since the

speech was broadcast widely on state-run media, it must have at

least had the tacit blessing of the leader. End Comment). Seif

added that the speech took about two or three years to develop

and hinted that there may be another forthcoming speech,

focusing more on politics and the creation of a constitution.

He added that he intends to "close all pending human rights

cases and start a new beginning for the country."



12. (S) Seif, who took a passive role during most of the

meeting, then queried Lantos about Iran, stating that the

Iranians are telling the GOL that "the Americans are playing a

game with you" and will refuse allow replacement of Libya´s SCUD

missiles, instead stripping the GOL of its weaponry. "They have

told us that the Americans will let us down." Representative

Lantos countered that those assertions are untrue and that the

USG truly appreciates what the GOL has done in abandoning its

WMD program. Seif then asked about the disarmament of

Hizballah, which Lantos replied is a "must" as all countries

must be in control of their own borders: "Nasrallah has set the

development of Lebanon back years." Lantos invited Seif to join

him on his next trip to North Korea to share Libya´s story of

giving up WMDs, a "major gesture for peace globally."



US BUSINESS REPS TALK OIL AND VISAS

-----------------------------------



13. (SBU) Congressman Lantos and Senator Specter met with U.S.

business leaders on August 23 representing Amerada Hess,

Marathon Oil, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco, Conoco-Philipps, and

Occidental. The businessmen expressed optimism about increasing

oil output in the coming years in Libya, but were frustrated by

continued visa challenges. They cited the initial optimism that

existed when bilateral relations were restored, but difficulties

both in obtaining visas for Americans to come to Libya and in

sending local and third country national employees to the United

States have dampened that feeling to some degree. Still, on the

big picture issues like personal security and government

corruption, they see Libya as offering a relatively favorable

operating environment compared to their counterparts working in

Nigeria, Indonesia, Colombia and other oil-production states.



14. (SBU) Congressman Lantos and Senator Specter did not clear

this cable before departing Tripoli.

BERRY


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