US apologises to Libya for dismissive comments


The US State Department apologized for dismissive comments its spokesperson made about Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s call for “jihad,” often translated as “armed struggle,” against Switzerland.

“I understand that my personal comments were perceived as a personal attack on the president,” State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley, who made the comments, told reporters. “These comments do not reflect US policy and were not intended to offend. I apologize if they were taken that way.”

In apologizing, he appeared to be trying to end a dispute that prompted the head of Libya’s state oil company to summon executives from US energy companies Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Occidental, Hess and Marathon last week and warn them the dispute could hurt US businesses in Libya.

The fracas centred on a February 25 speech Gaddafi made calling for a “jihad” against Switzerland. The term is often translated as “armed struggle,” but a Libyan official has since said Gaddafi meant an economic boycott.

Asked about the speech, Crowley on February 26 said it reminded him of a previous Gaddafi address which, he said, involved “lots of words and lots of papers flying all over the place, not necessarily a lot of sense.”

Libya’s ambassador to the United States last week told Reuters that his country wanted good relations with Washington but would not allow its leader to be insulted.

Crowley said he was sorry the dispute had become an irritant in the relationship and said that US Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, would visit Libya next week for consultations.

Pic: Libyan President- Muammar Gaddafi