US says Libya has benefited from giving up WMD

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Libya has benefited greatly from its decision in 2003 to destroy its arsenals of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), according to the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Speaking at her end of year press conference in Washington Friday, Rice said Libya’s decision had significantly improve US-Libyan relations and opened the door for Libya to receive investment and engagement with the international community.

”It’s why there are new investment opportunities in Libya, it’s why so many companies are talking to the Libyans, it’s why a number of leaders have been to Libya and the leader has been to other countries,” she said, according to a transcript of the press conference made available to PANA here.

”I think it’s benefited Libya greatly. If you look at where Libya is now in terms of its interaction with the international community, in terms of its ability to receive foreign visitors, in terms of its ability to get investment, it’s day and night from where it was before it made these strategic decisions. But, of course, I’m looking for an opportunity to extend our relationship further,” the US official added.

Rice did not say when she will visit Libya, as she had promised, but she announced plans to meet with Libyan Foreign Minister Abd al-Rahman Shalgam early in 2008.

”I’m going to meet with Foreign Minister Shalgam shortly after the first of the year. And I actually look forward to the opportunity to go to Libya. I think it will be an important step,” Rice added.

On 19 December 2003, the Libyan Foreign Ministry announced the country’s plan to give up its WMD, saying: “[Libya] believes that the arms race will neither serve its security nor the region’s security and contradicts [Libya’s] great concern for a world that enjoys peace and security.”

Since then, the cold relations between the African nation and the international community have thawed, allowing then British Prime Minister Tony Blair to visit Libyan leader Muammar Kadhafi in March 2004 and the US to resume diplomatic ties with Libya three months later.

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