Remarks With Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
March 13, 2013

The video below is available with
closed captioning on YouTube.

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everyone. I want to offer a very warm welcome to Prime Minister Zeidan of Libya. This is the first visit to Washington of the Prime Minister as prime minister, but it’s an historic visit, and the reason is very simple: He represents his country’s first democratically elected government in more than 40 years. And we all join in celebrating what has been accomplished in Libya: the liberation of a country that had been under the yoke of a dictator for decades.

The community of nations is very, very proud that we helped to give the Libyan people a fighting chance for their future and that we helped to prevent the slaughter of thousands of lives. So the fact that the Prime Minister is here with us today is testament to how far Libya has come, and frankly, how quickly it has come that far.

The Libyan people have begun to chart the course for their own future, and they’re defining it. Obviously, there are challenges ahead – we all understand that – from building political consensus to strengthening the security, protecting human rights, and growing the Libyan economy, which we were just talking about a few minutes ago.

The Prime Minister, I think, understands, but I want to reiterate to him today, that the United States will continue to stand with Libya during this difficult time of transition. We will cover a great deal in our meeting, but in the meeting that we just had, we talked about the difficulties of this transition period and the challenges, but also the wonderful assets that Libya has – great, intelligent people, not that big a population, and wealth through the oil resources. Libya is a country that can win this future, and we believe in that.

We also want to thank the Government of Libya for its cooperation after the attacks in Benghazi. As President Obama has made very, very clear, those who killed Americans in Benghazi will be brought to justice, and I emphasize that today. Prime Minister Zeidan and I know what a good friend Chris Stevens was to all of the Libyan people, and the thousands of everyday Libyans who marched in outrage carrying homemade signs thanking Chris for what he had done for them, thanking the United States for what all Americans had done for them, all of that underscores why we must not walk away from the difficult work that Chris Stevens and his cohorts were so dedicated to.

That work will continue, Mr. Prime Minister, and I am pleased to tell you that we will soon be sending Deborah Jones to Libya as our new ambassador. And she is a very capable and experienced diplomat, and I have no doubt that she’s going to help to strengthen the partnership between us.

With respect to other issues, let me just say quickly that the United States is committed to promoting stability in Libya, in North Africa, and in the Sahel. So we’re going to discuss further the cooperation on security issues. Just last month at the ministerial meeting in Paris, the United States pledged more assistance for security reform in Libya with particular emphasis on border security, rule of law, building a professional security force and institutions, and the control or destruction of chemical weapons that have been left over from the old regime. We will look for other ways to work together as we go forward in order to make Libya safer and to live up to its full potential.

Finally, in terms of our economic partnership, the United States wants to create an economic environment in Libya that will spur outside investment and foster entrepreneurship. Libya’s long-term prosperity will depend on creating greater opportunities for more people, for all of its citizens, for being an open society and an open economy. So we’re encouraging American businesses to take a look at Libya and to work to promote the kind of stability that will make investment in Libya even more attractive.

So I close by saying once again it’s a great privilege to have you here today, Mr. Prime Minister. I congratulate you and your country, as all the American people do, for this remarkable transition that you’re going through, and we look forward to working together with you in the days and months ahead. Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER ZEIDAN: Shukran, thank you.

(Via interpreter) – the United States of America and I would like to give my thanks to the American Government and people and President Obama and his Administration for the important role that the United States played in supporting the revolution in order to achieve democracy and stability, and the role that was played by President Obama and his Administration. It was very important in the success of the Libyan revolution.

I wanted to give my thanks to the American people and to the American Administration for this role, and I would like to confirm the importance of the relationship with the United States and the strategic aspect with the – of this new Libya. This relationship will be at the best level in various aspects – political, economic, and education and oil and the area of security cooperation – in order to achieve stability and peace in the Middle East and the Mediterranean and North Africa and the coast and the desert.

And was received today by several officials in the State and the National Security Advisor. We were honored with the passage of President Obama during the meeting. And it was a very productive meeting that dealt with various aspects and issues that are important in the relationship between the United States and Libya. We have confirmed certain factors that are in the service of this relationship. And I can say that the ambassador – that your ambassador who came to us when he visited us at the beginning of the revolution and stayed with us for a long time and presented great services to our country, and we consider him a very dear friend and a friend of the Libyan people. And he met our officials and lived with them and helped them and cooperated with them, and we lost a very dear man and a very nice and great human being.

And here I would like to confirm that the Libyan Government insists to work with the United States of America in order to reach the truth – who are the perpetrators of the crimes that were committed, who killed this dear friend and his colleagues. And they must be put to trial, and we will reach this conclusion because this is a principal issue in our heritage, Islamic heritage, and in accordance with our morals. And inasmuch as we regret the killing of the American dear ambassador, we are keen on reaching the truth and to see that justice is achieved and that – so that the American public opinion wants this and we will work with President Obama seriously in order to achieve this goal.

We dealt with various aspects of our relationship, and various issues of cooperation in the future, regardless of the education of Libyans here in America or our military cooperation, security cooperation, and economic and political cooperation, particularly trying to retrieve the money that was stolen from Libya, and the American Administration is committed to help us. And in the area of training and various other fields, the most important is the security cooperation in order to establish security and stability in the world and in the area of the Middle East and North Africa.

I’d like to reiterate my thanks to the American Administration and his excellency the Secretary of State for this opportunity. And I would like to confirm that our relationships will be – take a very – the best track, and will achieve the interests of the American people and the Libyan people. Thank you very much.

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PRN: 2013/0280