US sends ambassador to Libya in 36 years

November 22nd, 2008 - 2:22 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 22 (DPA) The US Senate has approved sending the first US ambassador to Libya in 36 years, the final step in warming relations between the one-time enemies.”We’re very pleased, very pleased,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday.

But Gene Cretz, the veteran US diplomat confirmed by the Senate, could have a very short-lived tenure as ambassador to Libya. President-elect Barack Obama has the opportunity to change any US ambassadors he sees fit when he enters office on Jan 20.

The Senate confirmed Cretz’s appointment late Thursday night.

US relations with Libya began softening in 2003 when Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi denounced terrorism and agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction. The United States consequently removed Libya from a terrorist blacklist and in 2006 restored diplomatic relations.

Earlier this month, Libya transferred $1.5 billion into a fund to compensate victims or their families for terrorist attacks, including the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, paving the way for the ambassador confirmation.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Libya and met with Gaddafi in September, becoming the highest ranking US official to visit Tripoli since 1957.

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