Libyan President Apologizes for Death of U.S. Ambassador
Libya’s new President, Mohamed al-Megaryef, on Monday vowed his country would not be a burden to the international community as he held his first face-to-face talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, AFP reported.
After voicing his condolences again for a terror attack on the U.S. mission in the eastern city of Benghazi in which four Americans were killed, Megaryef said in English, "We will not be a burden."
Clinton and Megaryef were meeting in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, in the wake of more than a week of violent protests triggered by an anti-Islam film which saw tens of thousands of demonstrators take to the streets.
U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was killed in the September 11 assault on the Benghazi mission, along with three other diplomatic staff, when the compound came under sustained heavy arms fire for several hours.
"I also seize this opportunity to reaffirm that what happened on 11th of September towards these U.S. citizens does not express in any way the conscience of the Libyan people, their aspirations, their hopes or their sentiments towards the American people," Megaryef told Clinton.
He said the attack in Benghazi "was a very painful, huge tragedy, not only for the American people and the families of the victims, but also for the Libyan people."
"The Libyan people lost a friend, lost someone who was very supportive of them, someone who was very supportive of our revolution and someone who was always there for them," he said.
Clinton told the Libyan leader that she wanted to thank him for his government's efforts "to help find and bring to justice all those responsible for the attack.
"I'd also like to thank the Libyan people for the outpouring of support they have shown to not only Ambassador Stevens, but on behalf of the United States," she said at the start of their talks in an upscale New York hotel.
"Courage has been the defining characteristic of the Libyan people over these last two years," Clinton added.
"Courage to rise up and overthrow a dictator, courage to choose the hard path of democracy, courage to stand against violence and division in the country and the world. Mr President, that kind of courage deserves our support."
On Sunday, Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said there's no proof indicating the attack on the consulate in Libya was related to protests over the “Innocence of Muslims” film.
"I have seen no information that shows that there was a protest going on as you have seen around any other embassy at the time. It was clearly designed to be an attack," Rogers told CNN.
While he said still thinks there may be evidence that the attackers could have known Ambassador Stevens was on the property at the time, Rogers added, "9/11 is probably more important to that equation than even the ambassador."
Last week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said there was no verification at the time that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a "preplanned attack", attributing the event to the “Innocence of Muslims” film which has sparked protests throughout the Arab world.
“This was the result of opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of reaction to the video that was found to be offensive," Carney told reporters.
At the same time, Carney did acknowledge for the first time that the events in Benghazi amounted to a "terrorist attack."
Intelligence sources told the U.S.-based Fox News network over the weekend that growing evidence has made it clear the attack on the U.S. consulate was coordinated between Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Shari'a terrorists.