LIBYA IS BACK IN THE HEADLINES TODAY as rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril heads to the White House along with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Obama meets with Rasmussen at 10:10 a.m., and Jibril, along with a delegation from the Transitional National Council, meets national security adviser Tom Donilon. Jibril meets later with Undersecretary for Policy Flournoy at the Pentagon.
JIBRIL WILL SEEK RECOGNITION for his group as Libya’s legitimate government, along with access to more than $30 billion in frozen Libyan assets. But White House press secretary Jay Carney said it’s “premature” to recognize the group as the official Libyan government.
U.S. OFFICIALS ARE STILL CONCERNED about the composition and capabilities of opposition forces, particularly reports that there are Islamist extremists among them who have fought U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While visiting Marines at Camp Lejeune on Thursday, Gates sounded a cautious note: “The truth is, I think, frankly, one of the reasons that we have been as cautious as we have in terms of providing other than humanitarian support and some non-lethal assistance to the opposition is because of what we don’t know. And I think we have to keep a wary eye on it in terms of how this thing progresses.”