President Barack Obama will meet with the leader of Libya’s National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, next week at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Obama plans to congratulate Jalil on the defeat of Muammar Qaddafi’s forces and discuss transition plans, Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said.
“We would like to see” the transitional council “recognized as the government of Libya,” Rhodes said at a briefing today in Washington.
Qaddafi remains at large and the U.S. has no indication he’s fled Libya. Rebel forces are pushing into the city of Sirte, Qaddafi’s birthplace on the Mediterranean coast, the Misrata Military Council said today. Anti-Qaddafi fighters also entered the mountain town of Bani Walid, Al Jazeera said.
Obama arrives in New York for the UN opening the evening of Sept. 19 and the meeting with Jalil will take place the next day. It’s one of several the president has scheduled to discuss democratic movements in Africa and the Middle East as well as global economic issues, Rhodes said.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the first foreign leaders to visit Tripoli since Qaddafi’s ouster, also will meet with Obama in New York, Rhodes said. The global economy and Europe’s debt crisis will be at the top of their agenda, along with developments in Libya and the Middle East.
Europe’s debt crisis will be a key topic at the UN meeting and leading into a Group of 20 meeting scheduled next month in France, Rhodes said. Obama has said the continent’s woes are hindering the U.S. recovery.
European finance ministers meeting in Poland ruled out efforts such as tax cuts or extra spending to prop up the faltering economy, saying the 18-month debt crisis leaves them no room for new fiscal stimulus.
The European Central Bank and its counterparts in the U.K., Switzerland, Japan and the U.S. said yesterday they’ll provide dollar loans to ease a liquidity crunch that had confronted European banks with the highest costs for obtaining the U.S. currency in almost three years.
Obama also has set a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 21. The Obama administration, in support of Israel, is opposing a Palestinian plan to seek statehood status in the UN. So far, there is no plan for Obama to have separate discussions with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas, in a televised address today, said Palestinians “have a legitimate right” to join the UN and will go there next week seeking full membership. The U.S. has said it would veto any resolution before the Security Council granting full membership as a nation-state.
Rhodes wouldn’t say whether the administration believes it can avert a showdown on a Palestinian bid for full membership. Israel’s supporters in the U.S. Congress have threatened to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority as punishment for seeking a UN vote. The only way the situation can be resolved is a resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Rhodes said.
“Whatever happens in New York, this is going to have to be resolved between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he said.