Photo: Libyan Leader of the Revolution, Moammar Gaddafi, right, meets with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, in Tripoli, Libya, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008.
The Leader of the Revolution Muammar Al-Qathafi greeted Friday evening US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at his official residence at Bab Al-Azizia in Tripoli and started by asking her how she was. "I am very well, thank you," she answered.
Secretary Rice offered Al-Qathafi greetings from President George W. Bush and Gaddafi asked Conde about the impact of Hurricane Gustav on the US Gulf Coast this week. Rice recounted that, while Gustav had done less damage than feared, other tropical storms were churning toward the US.
Later both shared iftar, a meal which breaks the fast of a Muslim holy Ramadan day currently underway.
Rice at a news conference said "we're off to a good start," Rice said later. "It is only a start, but I think, after many, many years, it's a very good thing that the United States and Libya are establishing a way forward."
"We did talk about learning from the lessons of the past," Rice said. "We talked about the importance of moving forward. The United States, I've said many times, doesn't have any permanent enemies."
"We are working on a trade investment framework which will improve the climate for investment, which I know many American firms want to do," Ms Rice said as quoted by BBC.
"The relationship (between the US and Libya) has been moving in a good direction for some time but we have a long way to go", she said, adding "we have established a good framework for our relationship."
Speaking at the joint news conference, Libya's Secretary of Foreign Liasion and International Cooperation Abdulrahman Shalgham said "the world has changed," and the very fact Rice had made the groundbreaking visit to Libya and had held talks with the Al-Qathafi was proof of this change.
"The time of confrontation is over. There may still be differences of opinion but this will not endanger the relationship between the two countries," Shalgham added.
Rice said "we are co-operating on Libya's membership of the security council of the United Nations, and the discussions are still in the early stages."
"It is important to have dialogue, including on issues of human rights," she said at the news conference.
"As this relationship goes forward and deepens it will continue to be important for us to have transparency and to talk about these issues in a respectful way," Rice added.
On issues of common interest, Rice said she had sought to reassure Al-Qathafi about US plans to establish a major base in Africa, known as Africom, saying its purpose was to "help Africans to help themselves" on issues such as peacekeeping.
Rice said she had raised with Al-Qathafi the issue of human rights, including the case of jailed dissident Fathi al-Jahmi, 66. "It is important to have dialogue, including on issues of human rights," she said at the news conference.
"As this relationship goes forward and deepens it will continue to be important for us to have transparency and to talk about these issues in a respectful way."
Shalgam, however, said Jahmi was receiving medical treatment at a private clinic.
"We care about our own people and we do need not anybody to come put pressure on us or give us lectures," he added.
Rice is the first secretary of state to visit Libya since John Foster Dulles in 1953 and the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit since then-Vice President Richard Nixon in 1957.