WASHINGTON, March 3 The U.S. State Department
spokesman said on Wednesday a comment he made about Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi was not meant as a personal attack but
he stopped short of offering an apology as demanded by Libya.
"I made an off-hand comment last Friday regarding
statements from Libya. It was not intended to be a personal
attack," P.J. Crowley told reporters at his daily briefing.
"That said, a call for jihad against any country or
individual has the potential to harm and is not something the
United States takes lightly," he added, alluding to Gaddafi's
call for a "jihad," or armed struggle, against Switzerland.
Asked about Gaddafi's comments, Crowley last Friday drew a
parallel with the Libyan leader's 1 hour and 35 minute address
to the United Nations last year.
"It just brought me back to a day in September, one of the
more memorable sessions of the U.N. General Assembly that I can
recall -- lots of words and lots of papers flying all over the
place, not necessarily a lot of sense," he said on Friday.
On Wednesday, Crowley tried to smooth ruffled feathers but
did not apologize and said the United States reserved the right
to comment as it saw fit about the actions of other nations.
"We remain firmly committed to the U.S.-Libyan
relationship," the spokesman said, saying the U.S. charge
d'affaires, the ranking U.S. diplomat in Tripoli, had been
called in by the Libyan government to discuss the matter.
"We look forward to continuing our dialogue with Libya but
we will not hesitate to express our concerns about the
statements or actions of any country," Crowley said.
(Editing by Todd Eastham)