Libya yet to work out U.S. cooperation in Benghazi probe

Reuters News

10/2/2012 2:05:36 PM - Reuters News

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

In Washington, a U.S. official said security was also a factor as to why the FBI team had yet not gone to Benghazi.

"Part of it was security posture, who was going to perform the security was part of it," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said. "What worries me is that crime scene is so stale now and been well-trampled."

The head of Libya's Supreme Court, Kamal Dahan, who also met Jones 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; Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria in Washington; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)