by Benjamin Fishman
March 08, 2012
03:12 PM EST
Yesterday, President Obama welcomed Prime Minister Abdurrahim ElKeib of Libya to the White House, kicking off three days of meetings for the Libyan leader in New York and Washington with U.S. officials, members of Congress, and business and policy leaders. Dr. ElKeib was the first Libyan prime minister to visit the White House in nearly 60 years, indicating a new era of friendship between the United States and Libya.
During yesterday’s meeting President Obama applauded Dr. ElKeib’s leadership and encouraged his government to make continued progress with the country’s democratic transition. He pledged the support of the United States to the people of Libya as they work to hold the country’s first free and fair national elections later this summer. Rebuilding their country and establishing security will take time, and the President encouraged Prime Minister ElKeib to take full advantage of American and international expertise as the Libyan people address the challenges of the days ahead.
Given the President’s leadership mobilizing the international community last year to protect the Libyan people, it was particularly moving to see how warmly the Libyans greeted President Obama and their eagerness to forge a close partnership with the United States after so many years of limited contacts. Prime Minister ElKeib captured this spirit again this morning when he said at the State Department, “In the past year, the dynamics between the U.S. and Libya has been dramatically transformed for the better. We look forward to the continued strengthening of this relationship as Libya moves forward with its democratic transition and rebuilding its economy.”
Benjamin Fishman is the Director for Libya at the National Security Staff.