By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 19 January:
Arriving fresh from his trip to Qatar Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan admitted that Qatar may have . . .[restrict]dealt with specific groups within Libya in the past, but that it had “agreed to deal with the state only through bi-lateral agreements and will no longer deal as it did pre the formation of the state” with non state groups.
Zeidan was reacting to displeasure expressed by some quarters of Libyan public opinion that Qatar had acted in the past with non state actors within Libya. He was implying that Qatar had to act with individual groups within Libya during and immediately post the Revolution in lieu of the existence of a strong Libyan state to interact with.
However, he was keen to impress that that phase was over and that he had secured agreement from his Qatari hosts to put relations on a state to state footing.
“We agreed on a series of agreements on security, training, intelligence, including the training of about 40 officers over 4 years at the Qatari Academy”.
Zeidan was at pains to thank Qatar for the early role it played in supporting the Libyan Revolution – at a time when the rest of the world was still uncertain as to whether or not to offer their support.
“We value our friendship” with Qatar he stressed, and “we want to correct relations which were exploited by the former regime. We will have relations like for like on an equal basis and state to state…based on democratic values”, Zeidan stressed.
The Prime Minister rebuffed the “rumours on the street that we travel to please others”. It part of our job, our duty and national interest. For the protection of Libya’s national interest.
Linking Libya’s internal stability and security with its external and border issues in general, Zeidan noted that Libya’s “internal affairs could not be corrected unless we sorted out our external relations”.
Asked if he had any fears of any forthcoming terrorist activities to coincide with the anniversary of the February 17th Revolution in a month’s time, Zeidan said that he had no specific fears but that he “was ready for everything and anything”. [/restrict]