Libya still working out cooperation with U.S. in Benghazi probe

TRIPOLI Tue Oct 2, 2012 12:58pm EDT

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya and the United States have yet to agree how a U.S. investigative team will cooperate in a probe into a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, a senior Libyan official said on Tuesday.

FBI agents were sent to Libya after the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate and a safe house in which the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans died. But so far, they have remained in Tripoli and have yet to go to Benghazi.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz said the prosecutor general had so far given only verbal approval for a joint investigation.

"We are getting ready for the FBI team to go to Benghazi and meet with our team and start joint investigations together and also visit the site," he said.

"The FBI team is now in Tripoli. There are others who will come maybe soon to join the team ... Hopefully in the coming days we will reach an agreement as to how the (U.S.) team will work with the Libyan team ... We are now in the context of (awaiting) written permission."

Abdel Aziz was speaking after meeting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Elizabeth Jones in Tripoli. U.S. officials in Libya were not reachable for comment.

"It is the right of the United States to be involved, exchange information and investigate what happened in Benghazi," Abdel Aziz said.

The head of Libya's Supreme Court, Kamal Dahan, whom Jones also met on Tuesday, told reporters the two countries would cooperate but that Libya would lead the probe. Jones also met Prime Minister-elect Mustafa Abushagur.

The Obama administration has described the assault as a terrorist attack and announced a panel to investigate the events. Its work is separate from the FBI probe.

Libyan officials say eight people have been arrested so far in connection with the attack.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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