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Obama Shakes Hands with Gaddafi


Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shakes hands with President Obama during the G8 summit on July 9, 2009 in L'Aquila, Italy.(Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Updated 9:43 p.m.
By Glenn Kessler
"Mad dog" no more.

Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, who former president Ronald Reagan once denounced as a "mad dog," supped on pasta just two seats away from President Obama at the Group of Eight summit today and even secured a handshake with the U.S. president.

Gaddafi is attending the summit in his role as president of the African Union, the latest step in a global reemergence of the North African country after years of isolation for its links to terrorism, including the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. But Libya settled outstanding claims for billions of dollars and gave up its efforts to build weapons of mass destruction in 2003. Now it even has a seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Last year, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice became the most senior U.S. official to visit Libya in more than half a century, but Obama is the first U.S. president to shake Gaddafi's hand. (Gaddafi did not shake Rice's hand but bowed respectfully.)

Gaddafi, one of the grand survivors of Middle Eastern politics, seized power in a coup in 1969, and though much of his career he used Libya's vast oil wealth to bolster terrorist movements around the world.

At the meal, Gaddafi, as is his fashion, wore a colorful outfit. He sported a red and gold cap, with a red and gold sash draping over his shoulder and a matching shirt and pants in black and tangerine with a wave-like pattern.

Gaddafi has also erected a luxury Beduoin tent in the football field of a police barracks near where the summit is being held. News reports from Italy said the Libyan leader's tent is equipped with such as luxuries as a plasma screen TV and and is being guarded by several of his female "Amazon" bodyguards.

Denis McDonough, a White House official, said before the meal that Obama would not hesitate to greet Gaddafi. ''He doesn't intend to choose which leaders he'll shake hands with and which he won't: he'll be very happy to greet everyone he meets," he said, adding: ''He wants to see cooperation with Libya continue in sectors such as Tripoli's decision a few years ago to give up its nuclear program, an absolutely voluntary decision that we consider positive."

Gaddafi, however, appears not to have forgotten past slights. Addressing Italian lawmakers last month, he compared the U.S. bombing of his heavily-fortified bunker in Tripoli in 1986, in which an adopted infant daughter was killed, to al-Qaeda's attacks and claimed the invasion of Iraq had turned the country into ''an arena for al-Qaeda." Reagan ordered the bombing raid after a series of provocations by Libya, including setting off a bomb in Berlin's La Belle discotheque, killing a U.S. soldier and a Turkish civilian, and injuring some 200 others, including 63 U.S. soldiers.

As Obama was shaking hands with Gaddafi, families of Pan Am 103 victims were gathered at the British Embassy in Washington and the British consulate in New York, speaking via video conference with Kenneth MacAskill, the Scottish justice secretary, and pleading that the convicted Lockerbie bomber not be returned to Libya.

Stephanie Bernstein of Bethesda, whose husband, Michael, was killed in the Pan Am bombing, said the video conference was a "wrenching" experience, as victims' families made heartfelt pleas that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi not be returned to Libya even though he is said to be suffering from prostate cancer. She said that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has supported the families' position, but the reports of Obama's handshake was a blow.

"I was shocked, absolutely dumbfounded," she said tonight. "I think it sent the wrong signal. This has undermined our efforts to make sure Megrahi is never released." If he is returned to Libya, she said, families believe he will be quickly freed from jail, rather than finish serving a sentence of at least 27 years. He was convicted in 2001.

Under a 2007 deal struck between Libya and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, it is up to MacAskill and Scottish First Secretary Alex Salmond to decide whether Megrahi, 57,  is returned to Libya to serve out his sentence. Salmond and MacAskill have insisted the decision will be made on "judicial" grounds, not political or economic concerns with the oil-rich country.

Posted at 5:48 PM ET on Jul 9, 2009  | Category:  Obama Abroad
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Comments

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LET'S STOP BEING ANGRY WITH EVERY ONE. IT DOES NOT HURT TO SHAKE HANDS OR EVEN PRAY FOR OUR ENEMIES.
WE CAN DO NOTHING ABOUT YESTERDAY. IF EVERYBODY HATED LIKE WE DO THEN THE JAPANESE, KOREANS, VIETNAMISE, BLACKS, AND MANY OTHERS WOULD HATE US. REMEMBER, WE CAN'T CHANGE YESTERDAY BUT WE CAN ALL MAKE TOMORROW BETTER.

NO ONE BUT WE AMERICANS ARE ALLOWING 1,000,000 OF OUR PEOPLE TO GO TO BED HUNGRY, ONLY AMERICANS ALLOW OUR POORER FELLOW AMERICANS TO BE HOMELESS, UNEDUCATED AND UNHEALTHY BECAUSE WE ARE ALLOWING CONGRESS TO CREATE A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY WITH IN THESE UNITED STATES.
CONGRESS HAS PROTECTED THE WEALTHY AND HIDDEN THE POOR. THE INDUSTRIAL PROPAGANDA HAS PITED US AGAINST EACH OTHER AS THEY SEND OUR JOBS OVERSEAS AND DEVELOP IN THIS COUNTRY A POVERTY LEVEL WORKFORCE.

WE ARE FOOLS TO BE ANGRY AT EVERYONE WE ARE TOLD TO BE ANGRY WITH. NOT EVEN BIN LADEN PUT US IN THE PREDICAMENT WE ARE IN.
OUR DEMOCRACY DEPENDS ON THE PARTICIPATION OF IT'S CITIZENS TO HAVE AN ACTIVE PART IN IT'S GOVERNMENT.

DEMOCRACY IS OF, FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE. WE ALLOWED OURSELVES TO DELEGATE OUR RESPONSIBILITY FOR PROTECTING OUR RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS, TO THE WEALTHY. OUR PRESIDENT'S EFFORTS TO MAKE THINGS BETTER ARE BEING BLOCKED BY THE CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS WHO BENIFIT FROM THEIR INVESTMENTS IN OIL, HEALTH CARE AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE. WE ARE NOT BENEFITING.

WE DON'T HAVE TO LOVE THE PRESIDENT, WE DON'T EVEN HAVE TO LIKE BLACKS AND WE CAN STILL HOLD ON TO OUR RACIST THOUGHTS BUT LETS NOT CUT OFF OUR NOSE IN SPITE OF OUR FACE. LET'S GIVE THIS BLACK MAN A CHANCE. HE CANNOT MAKE THE CHANGES WITHOUT US. THAT IS WHY THERE IS SO MUCH DIVISIVENESS BEING PROMOTED; TO KEEP THE WEALTHY AT OUR EXPENSE. IT'S TIME TO SAY "ENOUGH".

THERE WERE 43 OTHERS AHEAD OF HIM WHO MADE THE DECISIONS THAT HE HAS TO FIX.
LET'S HELP HIM, HELP US.

Posted by: sm98yth | July 14, 2009 11:04 AM

The whole Bush administration were guest of the Saudis shortly after the world trade center attacks. 19 of the Hijackers and terrorist that carried out the attack were Saudis. Gaddafi has never admitted any links to the Pan Am bombing or the bombing in Berlin or the terrorist that committed them. To me their is a reasonable amount of doubt that he was ever guilty of any involvement. Libya's current position in the world proves to me that Gaddafi is not a stupid leader. The irrigation system in Libya is an outstanding accomplishment of leadership. The ability for the Libyan people and leaders to forgive and forget is also to be commended. Although the country of Libya could never repay the lives that were lost in the terrorist attacks if they would of been guilty, we could never repay the lives that were lost during our vengeance on Libya either. I'm all for President Obama and mending every fence in the world. And I'm not a democrat either, I'm an American, former republican,turned liberal independent.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | July 12, 2009 7:20 PM

LOL! :-D

Perhaps Barry finally found his Dad?!

Family resemblance?

Posted by: SAINT---The | July 11, 2009 5:30 PM

I love this picture. I have been waiting for this one. It feels so good to see the President being a true diplomat in the world. The head of states from all countries are a part of these affairs and I love that they all fall all over themselves to get to be near our President. This must be the first time that many of them have felt that the U.S. isn't snubbing them. Happy Days are here again.

Posted by: calethia_hill10 | July 10, 2009 7:23 PM

"A soft answer turneth away wrath."
Proverbs

"Love your ememies."
Jesus

Posted by: rooster54 | July 10, 2009 7:02 PM

u r all freaks. and there is nothing else to say.

Posted by: fellowbozo | July 10, 2009 5:19 PM

The ignorant, hateful and ill-informed Fox news sheep are quite active today.

Posted by: JRM2 | July 10, 2009 3:42 PM


"Gaddafi ... used Libya's vast oil wealth to bolster terrorist movements around the world."
_________________________

Hypocrit! Saudi Arabia does the same thing, and Bush kisses them when he visits!

Most of the 9/11 highjackers were from Saudi Arabia, and Bush didn't hold Saudi Arabia responsibile.

Bush supposedly asked Saudi Arabia to help capture Osama Bin Laden, they refused. No problem for Bush.

Kadaffi was a pest, and Ronald Reagan bombed Kadaffi and killed Kadaffi's son.

I'm no lover of Kadaffi or Libya, but I haven't seen any other muslim nation do as much as Kadaffi has to make amends and change his ways.

Kadaffi even gave up his neclear weapons, in order to become a better nation in the world.

I think you're on a hate fest against President Obama, and there is no real substance in your article here.


Posted by: lindalovejones | July 10, 2009 12:00 PM

America wanted change, well we all got it, like it or not. God bless America.

Posted by: pkaiser1 | July 10, 2009 10:04 AM

Another in a long line of insults to our nation. He will kowtow to anyone. He has apologized to the world . . . again! He loves fascists, dictators, tyrants, thugs, and anyone else who oppresses human beings. He wants to oppress us but, he is in for a surprise on that account. If he could time-travel, he would go to see Hitler and Mussolini so he could study at the feet of epic fascists.

Posted by: Bender2 | July 10, 2009 9:30 AM

Yep,Comrade Chairman of the World Wannabe
Fake Messiah Barack Hussein Obama shows his
love for other Socialist and Dictators once
again. Impeach Obama and Hang Obama for
High Treason!

Posted by: Karen2009 | July 10, 2009 3:52 AM

Is there no tyrant Obama won't kiss on the a$$? Gawd, this Bozo is embarrassing the United States.

Posted by: sperrico | July 9, 2009 11:30 PM

EYES ONLY, TEAM OBAMA:


Is THIS what Leon Panetta was talking about??

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 9, 2009 11:04 PM

Obama shakes Gaddafi's hand but Bush kissed
his butt. Which is worse? I mean outside of the family resemblance in the photo.

Posted by: seemstome | July 9, 2009 10:10 PM

Posted by: wheeljc | July 9, 2009 8:39 PM

I once shook hands with Condi Rice and George Shultz. I can't say I liked either but hey what's a hand shake.I lived to tell about it and my wallet was still there luckily. the wingnuts who will obsess over it would obsess over something anyway if Rush or O'really tells them to. So who cares...they didn't swap spit like Bush and the Saudi's.

Posted by: jpenergy | July 9, 2009 8:00 PM

As "The One" shakes his hand, he whispers "welcome brother Muslim".

Posted by: TexRancher | July 9, 2009 7:46 PM

Where were all of the outraged conservaloons when Bush was secretly negotiating with this "terrorist" for years...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | July 9, 2009 7:26 PM

My god, another really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: hclark1 | July 9, 2009 7:13 PM

And the Apologist Incompetent pretending to lead this once great Nation;

shakes Gaddafi's hand like a Woman!

Or, Gihrly-Mahn! ;~)

At 10% Un-Employment...

Can we PLEASE add the Obasama Administration to the Un-Employed List?

Posted by: SAINT---The | July 9, 2009 6:04 PM

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