WASHINGTON — US officials and lawmakers will pursue efforts to better understand the Libyan opposition when they host talks here later this week with one of its leaders, the State Department said Wednesday.
Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg, defense department officials and members of Congress will meet Mahmud Jibril, who handles foreign policy for Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC), State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
Toner did not give an exact date for the talks, but said he believed Jibril would arrive in Washington on Thursday.
“These meetings will allow us to continue to have a better sense of the opposition and the TNC and its vision for Libya,” Toner told reporters.
Unlike France, Italy and Qatar, the United States has not recognized the TNC. Washington says it wants to obtain a “clearer picture” of who they are first.
Clinton, who left for Berlin, Tokyo and Seoul, met Jibril in London last month on the sidelines of an international conference aimed at mapping out a future for Libya after Moamer Kadhafi has been driven from power.
Jibril and Tripoli’s former ambassador to Washington, Ali Aujali, were due to meet with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the panel’s chairman, Democratic Senator John Kerry, announced in a statement.
“The Foreign Relations Committee and the American people are eager to learn more about the opposition movement in Libya and Mahmoud Jibril is well positioned to answer our questions,” said Kerry.
The senator said he had invited Jibril to Washington when they met in Cairo in March.