Saturday, August 15, 2009

Senator Collins' blog- Meeting with Qadhafi in Libya

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is part of a congressional delegation that has embarked on an official visit to the Middle East. Senator Collins is joined on the trip by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-NC).

The lead-up to our meeting with Colonel Qadhafi was bizarre indeed. Initially we were scheduled to meet with him at 4 p.m. Then the meeting was changed to 6, at which time we received word that it would be 7:30 because the Colonel was fasting in preparation for Ramadan. That time came and went, and we told 9 p.m. Finally at the point that we were close to complete exasperation, we were whisked off at 9:40 p.m. in a convey for a 40-minute drive to a secret location on the outskirts of Tripoli. There an enormous tent had been erected for our meetings, first with Qadhafi's son, who is the national security advisor, and then with Qadhafi himself. The tent was air-conditioned and outfitted with lavish carpets, couches, and coffee tables. Apparently, Qadhafi is on the move constantly and rarely spends two nights in the same place.

We discussed a host of issues. I focused my comments on the need for Libya to proceed with an agreement to transfer highly enriched uranium from his nuclear program.

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