U.S. to Open Alternative Embassy Site in Tripoli

Given the significant damage to the U.S. Embassy compound in the Libyan capital of Tripoli in May, which witnesses say was carried out by mobs loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, the U.S. plans to open an alternative embassy site while repairs are  made, the State Department said today.

“The damage to the chancery, the embassy building, appears to be significant, and it’s going to need some repair.  But our team continues to look at that situation, also look at the housing for our personnel, some of which is in OK shape and some of which has been damaged, and to look for an alternative site that we can use in the interim while those repairs are being made,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

She would not say when the U.S. plans to send diplomats back to the Libyan capital, but said the damaged buildings wouldn’t likely delay their return.

The State Department dispatched a team of technical experts to Tripoli over the weekend to determine the condition of the embassy and to assess the security situation in the city.

Depending on their findings, U.S. diplomats could soon return for the first time since the embassy was shuttered in February just hours before the Obama administration levied sanctions on Gadhafi and his inner circle. For the past several months, U.S. diplomats have worked out of the rebel stronghold of Bengahzi.

Last week ABC News’ Jeffrey Kofman visited the embassy but was turned back at the gates by rebel guards who had secured the property. Neighbors say an angry crowd stormed the compound on May 1 and set fire to parts of some of the buildings and ransacked the rest. Kofman obtained exclusive cell phone footage of black smoke rising from the compound. Another video on YouTube, said to have been shot inside the compound, showed significant damage and looting.

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