US envoy to Libya ensnared in WikiLeaks uproar

The Libyans have made no public comments about some secret US embassy cables.

Washington: The US ambassador to Libya has found his job in limbo after revelations in US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks drew complaints from the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Ambassador Gene Cretz has returned to Washington for discussions that included whether he should return to Tripoli, State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said on Wednesday.

"One of the issues that we are concerned about in the aftermath of WikiLeaks is the impact that these leaks can have on our relationship overall or the relationship between an ambassador and the government with which he or she deals," Crowley said.

"We have an improving relationship with Libya. It is a very important relationship to the United States. That said, it is a complex relationship and the ambassador is here to reflect on both where we stand in that relationship and his role as a part of that."

The Libyans have made no public comments about some secret US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

But a senior US official, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the situation, said Libyan officials had voiced concerns over the cables, although they had not formally asked for Cretz to be replaced.

In one cable, Gaddafi was said to have caused a month-long nuclear scare in 2009 when he delayed the return to Russia of radioactive material in an apparent fit of diplomatic pique.

Another cable published by the New York Times said Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya for more than 40 years, relies heavily on a staff of four Ukrainian nurses, including one described as a "voluptuous blonde."

The WikiLeaks fracas marks the latest turbulence in US relations with Libya, which were re-established in 2004 after Gaddafi renounced weapons of mass destruction.

The senior official said Cretz was one of a handful of US ambassadors to have seen their positions undercut by the leaks, which provided frank and sometimes embarrassing US assessments of a number of foreign governments and leaders.

"If you look globally, the relationship between our ambassadors and a number of governments have been affected by the disclosure of these cables. On an ongoing basis we are evaluating whether any changes will have to be made," the official said.

"We are concerned about the candour in our ongoing dialogue with governments. Some governments have told us they`re going to be less candid in future," the official added. "That is something ... we`re just going to have to work through over time."

Bureau Report