ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:
President Obama’s liaison to the Libyan opposition, Chris Stevens, arrived in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi today, two senior U.S. officials tells ABC News. He was also accompanied by several humanitarian experts from the U.S. Agency for International Development who will start formulating plans to bring humanitarian assistance into eastern Libya.
Stevens, who previously served as the number two official at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, will meet with leaders of the Transitional National Council in an effort to help the US better understand the composition and goals of the Libyan opposition. He’ll also discuss potential financial assistance and humanitarian aid.
“These meetings follow on the outreach efforts by the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz and other senior officials, and represent our commitment to supporting the Libyan people in their efforts to transition to the future that they deserve,” one official said.
“He’s going to talk to the TNC leadership about the kind of civil society and political structure they are trying to build in Libya. It is encouraging so far that they have outlined their commitment to democracy and to a very robust engagement with Libyans from across the political spectrum and this is in line with what they have consistently said were their goals…We recognize the TNC will need funds to keep it going and we are looking at ways in which we can assist,” the official added.
The U.S. has yet to formally recognize the opposition, something France, Italy, Qatar, and Kuwait have done or will soon do.
The Obama administration has been reluctant to provide arms the outgunned rebels in large part because their composition and intentions remained unclear. Last week Secretary Clinton met for the second time in as many weeks with representatives from the TNC at a conference in London.
Afterward she told reporters that “we’re still getting to know those who are leading the Transitional National Council.”