This photo posted on the official Facebook page of Libya’s Government of National Unity on Jan 12, 2023 shows Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah shaking hands with CIA Director William Burns. (GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY, LIBYA VIA FACEBOOK)
TRIPOLI – US Central Intelligence Agency chief William Burns made a rare trip to Libya on Thursday, meeting Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah in Tripoli, the Libyan government said.
Dbeibah's Government of National Unity announced the visit on its Facebook page, posting a picture of Burns and Dbeibah together. Two sources close to eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, who is based in Benghazi, said Burns had also met with him.
The CIA, which does not regularly announce such visits, declined to comment.
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Libya has had little peace since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, and the country split in 2014 between warring eastern and western factions, culminating in Haftar launching a doomed assault on Tripoli in 2019.
Dbeibah's government was installed through a UN-backed process in 2021 as part of a peace plan, but his administration is no longer recognized by the main political factions in the east and many Libyans fear a new bout of warfare.
Washington is seeking more Libyan suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan-Am airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland after last month's transfer from Libya to the US of a former Libyan intelligence officer accused of making the bomb that took down the plane.
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The detention of Abu Agila Mohammad Mas'ud Kheir Al-Marimi and his transfer to the US prompted anger inside Libya, which has no extradition treaty with Washington and led to recriminations from Dbeibah's political foes.