The Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), William Burns, made a surprise trip to Libya on last Thursday, and met with the Prime Minister in Tripoli, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, the Libyan Government of National Unity (GNU) said in a statement following the end of the meeting.
Two sources close to east-based Khalifa Haftar told Reuters that the CIA Director Burns had also met with Haftar in Benghazi.
The CIA Director’s visit came a month after the extradition of the Lockerbie suspect, the Libyan national Abu Agila Masud Al-Mariami, to the United States.
The Tripoli-based GNU got a lot of backlash for the extradition, and a number of analysts connected the CIA Director’s visit to the Lockerbie suspect’s handover.
When asked about the purpose of the visit, the spokesman of the US State Department Ned Price said that only the CIA could comment on the issue.
Meeting’s ins & outs
According to Politico, the US is interested in following up on Russia’s Wagner Group, which has 50,000 personnel stationed in foreign posts outside of Ukraine. It is operational in various countries including North African states -Libya included- and works closely with governments on military and political projects.
Dbeibeh hosted Burns at the cabinet office in Tripoli, along with Foreign Minister Najla Al-Mangoush and Libyan intelligence chief Hussein Al-Ayeb, GNU said, adding that Burns had underlined the need to develop economic and security cooperation between the two countries.
Burns, CIA chief since March 2021, visited Libya in 2014 as undersecretary of state for the Middle East.