U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s September 5th visit to Libya highlighted an important fact. The United States, as Ms. Rice says, has no permanent enemies. Her visit marked the first time a U.S. Secretary of State has visited Libya in more than fifty years.
For decades, relations between Libya and the United States were severely strained, as Libya developed weapons of mass destruction and supported terrorist acts targeted at American and Western interests.
Then, in 2003, the Libyan government announced it was giving up its weapons of mass destruction and renouncing terrorism. It cooperated in verifiably dismantling its weapons of mass destruction programs, and in stopping its terrorist activity. In June 2006, the U.S. removed Libya from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, opening the way for cooperation between the two countries in a variety of areas, including education and culture, commerce, science and technology, human rights and security.
According to U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, other countries engaging in dangerous proliferation activities should look at Libya’s choice and the positive consequences that are following. One of those countries, he says, is Iran:
”Iran still has a choice to make. It can go down the pathway of increasing isolation. It can go down the pathway of cooperation and having a peaceful, civilian nuclear energy program, as well as having the possibility of talks involving the United States at the table, at which we can talk about anything.”
“Libya is an example that if countries make a different set of choices,” said Mr. McCormack, “they can have a different kind of relationship with the United States and the rest of the world.”