New U.S. envoy to Libya pledges support

TRIPOLI Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:16am EDT

1 of 2. Laurence Pope (C), charge d'affaires to Libya, stands amongst members of the media in front of the Libyan Foreign Ministry in Tripoli October 15, 2012, after his meeting with Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdulaziz.

Credit: Reuters/Ismail Zitouny

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The U.S. envoy sent to Tripoli following the death of the American ambassador in an attack last month said on Monday the United States remained committed to supporting Libya.

Veteran diplomat Lawrence Pope said in his first comments since arriving in Libya last week that the United States would "continue on the path" of ambassador Christopher Stevens, who along with three other Americans was killed in what the United States has called a "terrorist" attack in Benghazi on September 11.

The incident has triggered a debate in Washington over whether the ambassador, and the U.S. mission in Benghazi more broadly, were given sufficient protection.

"The United States remains deeply committed to supporting the aspirations of the Libyan people as they build a sovereign, stable and economically prosperous nation," Pope said after talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdulaziz.

He said the United States was determined to bring to justice the perpetrators of the attack which killed four Americans.

The assault forced the evacuation of U.S. personnel from Benghazi, the eastern city that was the hub for the Libyan rebel movement that, with the assistance of NATO-led air strikes, toppled former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Pope came out of retirement to take up the position of "charge d'affairs", the title given to a diplomat who represents a country in the absence of an ambassador.

He had retired in 2000 after a 31-year career as a foreign service officer. He is a former U.S. ambassador to Chad and senior State Department counter-terrorism official. He speaks Arabic and French.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib in Tripoli; Writing by Tom Perry in Cairo, editing by Diana Abdallah)

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