US envoy, rebel military chief speak on phone: Libyan TV

Last Updated: Friday, March 11, 2011 - 00:02

Tripoli: Libyan state television on Thursday
broadcast what it said was a tape of a telephone conversation
between the US ambassador to Tripoli and the rebels` military
chief Omar al-Hariri.

In the seven-minute audiotape Ambassador Gene Cretz
reportedly speaks to Hariri about the uprising and his ties to
the self-proclaimed 30-member national council set up by the
rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The US envoy started off the conversation by
introducing himself in broken Arabic before speaking in
English through an interpreter.

"Salam aleykom (peace be upon you). Mr Hariri? I am
Gene Cretz, the US ambassador to Tripoli," the envoy said,
according to the television.

He asked Hariri about the rebels and if he had any
contact with those holed up in the western cities of Zawiyah
and Misrata, which have been rocked by heavy fighting between
pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces.

Asked about his links to the council, Hariri said: "I
am a member of the transitional council... I am in charge of
military forces under the supervision of the council."

He added that he hoped he could send "assistance" to
the rebels in Misrata and Zawiyah.

The ambassador also asked Hariri if he was in touch
with any of the forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moamer
Gaddafi.

"I am responsible for the forces deployed in the freed
areas which are in the east of Libya. The other forces are
opposed to us and are in the west... In any case I will not
reveal all my capabilities," Hariri said.

The ambassador then asked Hariri if there was a "safe
way" of contacting him again.

Hariri said they should find a way but that he did not
have the technical know-how. At that point the interpreter
interrupted the conversation to say: "You can make a
suggestion later and we will think together of the safest way
to contact you."

Before ending the conversation, Cretz asked Hariri:
"What equipment and assistance do you need."

Cretz left Libya on January 2 after a secret dispatch
published by WikiLeaks in which the US envoy says that the
Libyan leader will only travel abroad with his Ukrainian
blonde female nurse.

The report gave no indication from which location
Cretz made the call.

Yesterday, the Libyan regime offered a bounty of
nearly USD 500,000 for the capture of the council`s chairman,
former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, while Gaddafi
branded members of the group as traitors.=

PTI



First Published: Friday, March 11, 2011 - 00:02

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