US embassy cable - 09TRIPOLI677 (original version)

CODEL MCCAIN MEETS MUAMMAR AND MUATASSIM AL-QADHAFI (original version)

Identifier: 09TRIPOLI677
Wikileaks: View 09TRIPOLI677 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tripoli
Created: 2009-08-19 15:36:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PINS PINR PTER MASS MCAP LY
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
VZCZCXRO6358
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0677/01 2311536
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 191536Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5173
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1125
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0798
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0567
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5717
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000677 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/MAG AND H 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  8/19/2019 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINS, PINR, PTER, MASS, MCAP, LY 
SUBJECT: CODEL MCCAIN MEETS MUAMMAR AND MUATASSIM AL-QADHAFI 
 
REF: A. TRIPOLI 662; B. TRIPOLI 674; C. STATE 43049; D. TRIPOLI 648 
 
TRIPOLI 00000677  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Joan Polaschik, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy 
Tripoli, Department of State. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
1. (C) CODEL McCain discussed security, counterterrorism, and 
civil-nuclear cooperation during August 14 meetings with Libyan 
leader Muammar al-Qadhafi and his son, National Security Advisor 
Muatassim al-Qadhafi, stressing the need for Libya to fulfill 
its WMD-related commitments and to approve a Section 505 
end-user agreement in order to move forward on bilateral 
military and civil-nuclear engagement.  While Muatassim 
al-Qadhafi reiterated long-standing Libyan requests for security 
assurances from the United States and emphasized Libya's 
interest in the purchase of U.S. lethal and non-lethal military 
equipment, Muammar al-Qadhafi was notably silent on these 
subjects.  The elder Qadhafi made a point of expressing his 
satisfaction with the improved U.S relationship and his hope 
that the relationship would continue to flourish.  CODEL 
McCain's discussion of the Megrahi case was reported ref A.  End 
summary. 
 
THE MEETING 
 
2. (SBU) CODEL McCain (R-Az), including Senator Joe Lieberman 
(I-CT), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Susan Collins 
(R-SC) and Senate Armed Services Committee Staffer Richard 
Fontaine held back-to-back meetings August 14 with Libyan 
National Security Advisor Muatassim al-Qadhafi and Libyan leader 
Muammar Al-Qadhafi.  Libyan officials NSC Director Dr. Hend 
Siala, MFA Department of Americas Secretary Ahmed Fituri and MFA 
Office of Americas Director Mohamed Matari also attended the 
meetings, as did Charge and Pol/Econ Chief (notetaker). 
 
MUATASSIM MEETING SECURITY FOCUSED 
 
3. (C) Characterizing the overall pace of the bilateral 
relationship as excellent, CODEL McCain opened its August 14 
meeting with National Security Advisor Muatassim al-Qadhafi by 
noting the drastic change that the relationship had undergone 
over the last five years.  "We never would have guessed ten 
years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by 
a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi," remarked Senator Lieberman.  He 
stated that the situation demonstrated that change is possible 
and expressed appreciation that Libya had kept its promises to 
give up its WMD program and renounce terrorism.  Lieberman 
called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting 
that common enemies sometimes make better friends.  The Senators 
recognized Libya's cooperation on counterterrorism and conveyed 
that it was in the interest of both countries to make the 
relationship stronger.  They encouraged Libya to sign the Highly 
Enriched Uranium transfer agreement by August 15 in order to 
fulfill its obligation to transfer its nuclear spent fuel to 
Russia for treatment and disposal.  [Note: The Libyan Government 
subsequently informed us of its intent to sign the agreement on 
August 17 and has begun taking good-faith steps to do so (ref 
B). End note.] 
 
4. (C) Muatassim welcomed the high-level visit, describing it as 
a good sign for the relationship - a relationship that Libya 
wants to develop.  He explained to the Senators the recent 
requests that the National Security Council had made to procure 
defense equipment.  He stated that there were three categories 
of requests: one which was approved by the USG, another which 
awaited congressional approval, and a third which waited USG 
agreement.  He reiterated the refrain he conveyed to Secretary 
Clinton during his April visit (ref C) -- Libya has not been 
adequately rewarded for its decision to give up WMD and needed 
some sort of security assurance from the United States.  He 
emphasized the need for Libya to purchase U.S. non-lethal 
equipment in order to enhance its defense posture.  Muatassim 
requested the "highest level of help possible" to obtain 
military supplies, including mobile hospitals and uniforms.  He 
also requested assistance with upgrading Libya's equipment, 
including helicopters.  "We can get [equipment] from Russia or 
China, but we want to get it from you as a symbol of faith from 
the United States," he said.  He described the security threats 
that Libya could possibly face as a result of its geography - 
"There are 60 million Algerians to the West, 80 million 
Egyptians to the East, we have Europe in front of us, and we 
face Sub-Saharan Africa with its problems to the South." 
Muatassim stressed that Libya wanted security assurances from 
the United States as a sign that the United States was still 
committed to Libya.  He pledged to work with the MFA on approval 
of the Section 505 end user agreement, as well as the signing of 
the nuclear spent fuel (highly enriched uranium-low enriched 
uranium) transfer agreement. 
 
5. (C) Senator McCain assured Muatassim that the United States 
wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its 
 
TRIPOLI 00000677  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
security.  He stated that he understood Libya's requests 
regarding the rehabilitation of its eight C130s (ref D) and 
pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in 
Congress.  He encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term 
perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember 
that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be 
overcome.  He described the bilateral military relationship as 
strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at U.S. Command, 
Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan 
military participation. 
 
ELDER QADHAFI QUIETLY LISTENS 
 
6. (C) Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, who joined the group in 
the same tent in which Muatassim had met the CODEL, likewise 
highlighted the strength of the U.S.-Libya relationship. 
Qadhafi commented that friendship was better for the people of 
both countries and expressed his desire to see the relationship 
flourish.  He thanked the Senators for their visit and described 
America as a race rather than a nationality, explaining that 
many Libyans are dual citizens because they were born in the 
United States.  Senators McCain and Graham conveyed the U.S. 
interest in continuing the progress of the bilateral 
relationship and pledged to try to resolve the C130 issue with 
Congress and Defense Secretary Gates.  The Senators expressed 
appreciation for Libya's counterterrorism cooperation in the 
region.  They urged Libya to fulfill the remainder of its WMD 
commitments.  Senator Graham reiterated the need for improved 
U.S. Embassy security and urged Qadhafi to approve the site for 
a New Embassy Compound (NEC) as a way to fortify the 
relationship.  Qadhafi remained quiet throughout the discussion 
and did not respond specifically to any of the issues with the 
exception of Megrahi (ref A).  He indicated that the National 
Security Council would be charged with addressing the 
security-related issues. 
 
COMMENT 
 
7. (C) CODEL McCain's meetings with Muammar and Muatassim 
al-Qadhafi were positive, highlighting the progress that has 
been made in the bilateral relationship.  The meetings also 
reiterated Libya's desire for enhanced security cooperation, 
increased assistance in the procurement of defense equipment, 
and resolution to the C130s issue.  Although Muatassim 
al-Qadhafi repeated Libya's familiar complaint that it has not 
received enough recognition and support in exchange for its 
decision to abandon its WMD programs, Muammar al-Qadhafi was 
notably silent on this issue.  Qadhafi's silence on these issues 
may have been part of his reaction to the CODEL's discussion of 
the pending release of convicted Pan Am 103 bomber Abdel Basset 
al-Megrahi (ref A), an issue that reportedly is of great 
personal concern to Qadhafi. 
 
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 
 
8. (C) Senior Libyan officials confided that the CODEL's meeting 
with Qadhafi took place so late in the evening (nearly 11 pm) 
because the Leader had been fasting and usually takes a nap 
after breaking his fast.  The Libyan officials told us that 
Qadhafi often fasts on Mondays and Thursdays and is doing so 
now, in the run up to the holy month of Ramadan.  Qadhafi 
appeared as if he had been roused from a deep slumber for the 
meeting.  He showed up with rumpled hair and puffy eyes, and was 
casually dressed in a short-sleeved shirt patterned with the 
continent of Africa, wrinkled pants and slip-on shoes.  In spite 
of his appearance, Qadhafi was lucid and engaged throughout the 
meeting.  Muatassim al-Qadhafi, on the other hand, revealed his 
lack of strategic depth throughout the meeting, referring to 
"the 52 countries of America -- or is that Africa?" and asking 
MFA officials to clarlify Libya's role in the upcoming UN 
General Assembly. 
 
9. (C) Muatassim conducted his meeting in English, while his 
father used an interpreter for his meeting.  The elder Qadhafi 
appeared to understand some of the CODEL's English-language 
remarks and offered a few comments in English. 
 
10. (U) CODEL McCain did not have the opportunity to clear this 
message prior to departure. 
POLASCHIK 

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