The United States on Thursday named a new charge d’affaires to Libya following the murder of ambassador Chris Stevens in last month’s militant attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Veteran diplomat and Arabic speaker Laurence Pope has arrived in Tripoli already, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
His appointment “emphasizes the commitment of the United States to the relationship between our two countries and to the people of Libya as they move forward in their transition to a democratic government,” Ms. Nuland said.
“We will continue to assist as Libya builds democratic institutions and broad respect for the rule of law – the goals that Ambassador Stevens worked hard to achieve.”
Pope has come out of retirement to take up the post at a time when the State Department is still investigating the September 11 attack in which Mr. Stevens and three other American diplomatic staff were killed.
Mr. Stevens was the first ambassador to be killed on duty since 1979 and the horrific attack on the Benghazi consulate when dozens of armed men stormed the building, bombarding it and torching it, has shocked the US diplomatic community to the core.
But the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama has vowed to stand by the people of Libya as it struggles to build a democracy following the toppling of long-time autocratic leader Moammar Gadhafi last year.
“Pope looks forward to working with the Libyan government and the Libyan people during this historic and challenging time, as we build strong economic, social, political, and educational bridges between our two people,” Ms. Nuland added.
Mr. Pope retired from the Foreign Service in 2000 after 31 years, during which he notably served as ambassador to Kuwait, as well as ambassador to Chad from 1993 to 1996.
He was also director for Northern Gulf Affairs from 1987 to 1990, associate director for counterterrorism 1991 to 1993, and political adviser to the commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000.