November 7, 2010 / 5:33 PM / 7 years ago

Libya orders U.S. diplomat to leave: reports

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Libya has ordered a diplomat at the United States embassy in Tripoli to leave the country within 24 hours for breaching diplomatic rules, two Libyan newspapers reported on Sunday.

The Libyan authorities gave no confirmation of the reports while a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, contacted by Reuters, said he had no comment. In Washington, the State Department said it had no immediate comment.

"The Libyan authorities asked the Political Affairs Secretary at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli to leave Libya within 24 hours," the Internet edition of the Oea newspaper reported.

Citing what it called informed sources, the newspaper said the expulsion followed the diplomat's visit to the city of Ifrane, 130 km (80 miles) south-west of the capital.

The was "considered by the Libyan authorities to be contrary to the rules and norms of diplomacy," the newspaper said, without giving any more details.

A second Libyan newspaper, Quryna, also reported that a U.S. diplomat had been ordered to leave the country.

The United States and Libya had no diplomatic relations for decades until 2004, after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi renounced weapons of mass destruction.

Ties between the two countries hit a rocky patch earlier this year after a U.S. State Department official made disparaging remarks about a speech by Gaddafi. The row was resolved after the official apologized.

U.S. firms Exxon Mobil, Hess and ConocoPhillips are among international energy companies with operations in Libya, an OPEC member and home to Africa's largest proven oil reserves.

Reporting by Hamid Ould Ahmed and Washington bureau; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Ralph Boulton

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