NEW YORK (PIX11) -- Former US Congressman Curt Weldon left Libya Friday after flying to meet Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi on a private mission with WPIX-TV reporter Larry Mendte.
Although Qaddafi refused to meet, Weldon still leaves the embattled nation with tangible victories, one being a letter from the Libyan Prime Minister for US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The wax-sealed letter marks the first direct communication between the prime minister and U.S. officials.
“I am disappointed that I did not get to sit down face-to-face with Col. Qadaffi as promised, but I may have been able to get something even more significant – a path to a resolution of this conflict. Anytime you are asked to play a part in advancing the cause of peace there is a moral obligation to say yes,” Weldon said in a press release.
“I can only assume that I was not given the meeting because those around Qadaffi were concerned that he might hear the truth from me regarding his actions and the actions of his government in persecuting innocent people including the details of Eman al-Obeity.”
Qadaffi’s Chief of Staff Dr. Bashir Saleh initially contacted Weldon, who had met with Qadaffi several times in the past. The two met in 2004 and 2005, including the only appearance by a US Official to speak at the Opening Session of the Great Jamahiriya in 2004.
Although the meeting was not an official government trip, Weldon’s message was in “direct support of the stated public positions of President Barrack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Weldon said.
While the initial goal of the trip proved elusive, Weldon’s visit was a timely one as he says he was able to work on pressing humanitarian missions -- securing the release of four journalists who were seized Tuesday by Qaddafi loyalists, and escorting rape victim Eman al-Obeidi out of Tripoi to her family in Benghazi.
According to Weldon, he organized a face-to-face meeting between Eman and Muammar Qaddafi’s son, Saadi Quaddafi, to garner support for her release. He also claims to have reached out to Angelina Jolie's publicist through U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (CA) to coordinate an escort to Benghazi through Tuis and Cairo.
Even after meetings with high Libyan officials including Quaddafi's son and the prime minister, al-Obeity and the four journalists are still detained, however.
Weldon says he also worked closely with USA Today and the Global Post to try and free US journalists Clare Morgana Gillis and James Foley, along with two photographers, one from Spain, the other from South Africa.
The former congressman vows to continue the fight for their freedom from the United States.
“My delegation fully supports the stated objectives and requirements of the US and its Allies and will continue to work on behalf of Eman al-Obeidi, US journalist Clare Gillis and the other journalists who are being illegally detained,” Weldon said.
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