Libya shows power of change, U.S. says

Sept. 5, 2008 at 3:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's trip to Libya may not be evidence of what can happen when a strongman has a change of heart, observers said.

Rice, the highest-ranking American diplomat to visit the country in 50 years, will meet with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and others in Tripoli to discuss economic ties, regional issues and oil, the Christian Science Monitor reported Friday.

Members of President George Bush's administration also expressed hope the meeting would signal what can happen when leaders end terrorist activities, the newspaper said.

"It's doubtful the Libya example will mean much to Iran, in large part because Iran is in a better position as it faces down the international community than Libya was," says James Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.

U.S. officials concede Iran has shown little inclination in emulating Libya's example of working its way back into the international community.

"Whether some of these other regimes will wake up and smell the hummus and see they are goofing up as far as their relations with the international community are concerned, that remains to be seen," David Welch, assistant secretary of State for Near East affairs, told the Monitor. "So far, the record of Iran's decisions is not inspiring."

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