WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday stopped short of granting Libyan rebels full diplomatic recognition, as Mahmud Jibril became the opposition’s first senior official to have talks at the White House.
There was no immediate sign of new US financial help for the cash-strapped rebels but officials did praise the National Transitional Council (NTC) as a “legitimate” voice for Libyans, as they battle Moamer Kadhafi’s regime.
The White House also said it was working with Congress on changes to the law to allow a portion of around $30 billion in Kadhafi regime assets blocked in the United States to be funneled towards the opposition.
Jibril, the second-ranked political leader of the forces trying to topple Kadhafi’s more than 40-year rule, met National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.
But there was no mention of any meeting with President Barack Obama, despite some speculation that the US leader might informally drop by the talks.
“During the meeting, Mr Donilon stated that the United States views the (NTC) as a legitimate and credible interlocutor of the Libyan people,” the White House said in a statement.
“In contrast, Mr Donilon stressed that Kadhafi has lost his legitimacy to rule and reiterated President Obama’s call for Kadhafi to leave immediately.
“Mr Donilon and Dr. Jibril discussed how the United States and the coalition can provide additional support to the (NTC). Mr Donilon applauded the (NTC’s) commitment to an inclusive political transition and a democratic future for Libya.”
Jibril had set the stage for his White House appearance by warning that the opposition NTC was running badly short of money and needed diplomatic recognition as Libya’s rightful rulers