Background Briefing Senior Government Officials En Route to Abu Dhabi, UAE

Special Briefing
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
June 8, 2011

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL ONE: [Senior Government Official Two], why don’t you give us some specifics about the meeting?

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Okay. As [Senior Government Official One] said, this is the third meeting, and I think it would be useful to look at what’s happened since the last meeting in Rome on the 5th of May and now. We’ve seen an increase in the calls for Qadhafi’s departure, public statements by the Russians, the Turks, even the Mauritanians, so it’s not just limited to the inner circle.

We’ve seen more defections of key regime insiders, the eight generals and the head of the national oil company. More countries have elevated and intensified their engagement with the TNC. In very recent days, we’ve seen visits by Lady Ashton of the EU, UK Foreign Secretary Hague, Italian Foreign Minister Frattini, the Spanish, the Chinese, the – so this is demonstrating support for the TNC. At the same time, the international community is cognizant of the TNC’s financial needs and is working actively on that issue. We know that the international community will continue to support and won’t let them go under financially.

In the U.S., we are looking at working with – we are working with Congress to look at using some of the frozen assets for the benefit of the Libyan people. We’ve also seen NATO step up its operations. We’ve seen the addition of the attack helicopters. OUP’s mandate was renewed for 90 days. We’ve also seen – in the last Contact Group, there was a call for an end to broadcasting or the enabling of Libyan broadcasting, and we’ve seen the Arab League come around and Arabsat has gone off the air.

So as [Senior Government Official One] has said, this has been – each meeting has built on the previous one, and there has been an increasing ratcheting up of the pressure, increasing calls on Qadhafi to leave, and I think an increasing unity in the international community. It is incremental, and we expect that tomorrow in Abu Dhabi we’ll see more progress.

[Senior Government Official Three], anything to add?

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL THREE: No. There’s – these are – I think if you look at each of the baskets of this political – of this piece – the economic, political, diplomatic, and military – you see a ratcheting up as time has gone on, which has been very much consistent, as [Senior Government Official Two] said, with the consolidation of international views as stated in each of the Contact Group meetings. So I think we’re moving forward, and I think we’re seeing an intensification on each of those particular baskets that constitute the various tools that we’re using to bring this to a conclusion.

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think we’ll take three or four questions.

QUESTION: What progress are we going to see tomorrow (inaudible)?

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, for one thing, the circle has expanded and the Emiratis have invited additional participants, especially from the Arab world. I don't know right now who’s going to be here – be there. We haven’t seen the final list. But I know one of the Emirati objectives is to increase Arab support for this, and that’s something that we very much support.

QUESTION: Are you looking for more money from the Arabs? The Secretary is meeting with the Kuwaiti foreign minister. Are you looking for them to step up to the plate when it comes to giving the rebels money – the TNC?


QUESTION: Is the exile option still on in terms of trying to find a country that might be willing to take Qadhafi (inaudible)?

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL THREE: I think – the international community, I think, is beginning to talk about what could constitute end game to this. That would obviously include some kind of ceasefire arrangement and some kind of political process. And of course, the question of Qadhafi and perhaps his family is also a key part of that. I think there have been general discussions, but no specific offers, no specific kind of definitiveness to when he needs to go or where he should go, or whether he should remain in Libya for that matter.

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think equally importantly one of the things you’ll see in this meeting is a serious conversation about what post-Qadhafi Libya ought to look like – a unified state, democratic state, with a smooth transition.


QUESTION: (Inaudible) are you confident that the TNC is ready to do anything, to take over if he does fall? And what have your contacts been the past couple of days since NATO’s really been stepping up the bombing campaign? What have been your contacts with Libya?

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Yeah. Well, I think, in terms of the TNC, I think from the start we’ve seen incremental progress. They’ve set up their shadow ministries, as it were, to provide the basic services for their – for the population that they’re responsible for right now. I think we’ve seen some progress in terms of the military organization. They appointed a civilian as the head of the – as the civilian head of the military forces. So we’ve seen some progress there, too.

Are they ready to take over tomorrow? It’s a very difficult question to answer, because I think the magnitude of the challenge, when you consider that when Qadhafi goes, basically a whole regime goes, it’s not just one man. So they’ve got a lot to deal with. And I think at least part of this incremental progress we’re seeing is also the international community, that is we and our partners and the UN, looking very carefully at the kind of issues that would arise should Qadhafi fall, and then discussing with the TNC how they’re approaching it as well. And they already are. They already are giving thought to several of the issues; for example, what might happen in Tripoli, how do you provide security, how do you get the message immediately out to people, who they are, and what they need to do for basic services.

So it’s a – we can’t say, obviously, are they ready to assume complete control, but they certainly are doing everything to try to get ready for that day. And we in the international community have stepped up our efforts as well to be able to be in position to provide them whatever kind of assistance they might need.

SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL ONE: These are the conversations that we have to have in Abu Dhabi to begin to be ready to support a solid transition.

SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL TWO: One other thing I’d add about the TNC is that they have reached out and have included Libyans from western Libya, southern Libya, central Libya; it’s not just an eastern organization.


QUESTION: Are you close to recognizing them, given that progress that they’ve made?

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL THREE: Well, I mean, this is the same question that, I mean, we’ve had several times.


SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL THREE: We – the President invited them to open up an office in Washington. They were met during the last visit by Mr. Donilon in the West Wing of the White House. So, as I said several times, I think we’re doing everything we need to do. Again, as I’ve said several times, it’s still on the table and we’re still considering it, but no final decision as of right now.

SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Last question over here.

QUESTION: The TNC has expressed a lot of disappointment that since the Rome meeting and all the pledges, all the money, they actually haven’t seen the money start to flow yet. What’s the holdup? We understand what – the U.S. Congress, there’s one thing. But the international community has to find a way to get them money. Why hasn’t that happened, and when can they get – when will they get the cash in hand?

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL TWO: Well, that’s something that will be discussed tomorrow. The international community has been working intensively on coming up with a mechanism that will provide this assistance, through which the assistance can flow in a transparent and accountable manner. We understand the TNC’s frustration, but, again, the international community isn’t going to let the TNC go under financially.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL ONE: These issues are very complicated given the political status of the TNC and the fact that you have lots of different countries looking to help with different legal systems that have to be worked through. But that’s why this meeting will allow us to concert, and we are optimistic that some support will come from this meeting.

I think we’ve done it. Thanks, guys.

QUESTION: Can we have a question on Yemen, though? Can we do one question on Yemen?

SENIOR GOVERMENT OFFICIAL ONE: I think we’ve done it. We’ll speak to these things tomorrow after she has her meetings. Okay? Thanks.

PRN: 2011/T48-02