Envoy: Canada Obtained US Approval Before Establishing Ties with Libya
Canada sought US approval before granting formal diplomatic recognition to Libya and North Korea, which are regarded by Washington as pariah states, reported the National Post, quoting the new US ambassador to Ottawa.
Although Washington “has deep concerns about the involvement of Libya and North Korea in promoting terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction,” Ambassador Paul Cellucci said there were strategic benefits to having US allies establish diplomatic relations with these so-called "rogue regimes."
Canada can not only pick up valuable intelligence for the Western alliance, but it can also act as an important intermediary in helping to solve disputes between the United States and the maverick countries, he suggested.
"In fact, at times, it is useful for the United States to have an ally like Canada in these countries. So there is certainly nothing negative there," Cellucci said in an interview. "Having people on the ground, they can find things out and sometimes they can get some questions answered that obviate the problem."
Canada last week established its first embassy in Tripoli.
In each instance, Cellucci said Ottawa informed Washington before it opened the embassies and received a positive response.
"Canadians notified us well in advance of their intentions to have relations with North Korea and Libya," he said.
According to the National Post, some Canadians strongly objected to the opening of an embassy in Tripoli, based on allegations that the country was seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction and "ferociously rejects" efforts to settle the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel.
B'nai Brith Canada issued a statement expressing surprise that Canada would choose to upgrade relations and called for vigilance in dealings with Libya.
"The proliferation of arms in Northern and Central Africa, the belligerent posturing of [Libyan Leader Muammar Kadhafi] towards the Western democracies, and the opaque wall around Libya's human rights record should give ... pause," said Rochelle Wilner, president of the Jewish human rights organization.
However, the allegations of the Jewish group contradict confirmed reports that Kadhafi proposed at the March Arab Summit that Israel be accepted as a member of the Arab League if it agreed to withdraw from the Occupied Territories and destroy its weapons of mass destruction.
The paper cited an article in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs magazine offering an assessment of why the United States does not object to Canada dealing with Libya.
The oil-rich nation, which the World Bank said suffered $18-billion in losses as a result of UN sanctions, “has closed once-notorious training camps and cut arms supplies to terror groups, including Palestinian terrorists, according to Foreign Affairs."
Libya endured more than a decade of sanctions related to state-sponsored terrorism, in particular, the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people in 1988.
The sanctions were suspended in April, 1999, after Libya handed over two men for extradition to the Netherlands for trial.
While Libya remains on the US government's list of "rogue states," it is also attempting to reintegrate Tripoli into the world community. Britain, another strong US ally, reopened diplomatic ties with Libya last year.
However, Washington remains concerned that Libya has made significant progress in acquiring chemical weapons, said the National Post – Albawaba.com
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