Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan, making his first official trip to Washington six months after the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, publicly promised Wednesday that his government would identify, capture and put on trial those behind it.
Libya and the United States will work together “in order to reach the truth—who are the perpetrators of the crimes that were committed,” Zeidan said during a joint press conference with Secretary of State John Kerry.
“They must be put to trial,” he said through an interpreter, citing the demands of “American public opinion” and “our Islamic heritage.”
Zeidan added, “We are keen on reaching the truth and to see that justice is achieved.”
President Barack Obama, who has drawn heavy fire from Republicans over his handling of the attack on the American compound in Benghazi, dropped in on Zeidan’s meeting at the White House with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
“The president expressed the United States’ support for the Libyan people and their government as they continue their democratic transition,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. “The president reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi are brought to justice, and stressed the importance of Libya’s cooperation with the ongoing investigation.”
Two days past the six-month mark since the attack, which claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, officials have yet to announce significant captures in the case or even conclusively pinpoint the identities of those responsible.
Obama also announced he has chosen Steven’s successor, Deborah K. Jones, a career diplomat with extensive Middle East experience. Jones, whose Senate confirmation will give lawmakers another shot at questioning the administration’s handling of the attack, currently works at the Middle East Institution in Washington. But she has served in U.S. posts in Kuwait, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and the now-closed embassy in Syria.
“She is a very capable and experienced diplomat, and I have no doubt that she’s going to help to strengthen the partnership between us,” Kerry told Zeidan at the State Department.
Kerry also emphasized the importance of U.S.-Libya cooperation on Benghazi.
“As President Obama has made very, very clear, those who killed Americans in Benghazi will be brought to justice, and I emphasize that today,” Kerry said. “We must not walk away from the difficult work that Chris Stevens and his cohorts were so dedicated to.”