US diplomat arrives in Libya to replace slain ambassador Stevens

A new top U.S. diplomat arrived in Tripoli on Thursday to replace slain ambassador Christopher Stevens, the State Department announced.

Laurence Pope becomes the new chargé d'affaires and will head the U.S. mission until President Obama nominates a new ambassador. Stevens was killed along with three other Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

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“Mr. Pope’s selection as Chargé d’ Affairs emphasizes the commitment of the United States to the relationship between our two countries and to the people of Libya as they move forward in their transition to a democratic government,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. 

“We will continue to assist as Libya builds democratic institutions and broad respect for the rule of law — the goals that Ambassador Stevens worked hard to achieve.”

Pope is fluent in Arabic and has been with the Foreign Service for 31 years. His selection comes as the Obama administration fights to retain a strong presence in the country it helped liberate from Moammar Gadhafi amid calls from some lawmakers to cut aid following last month's attack.

Here's the full readout from the State Department: 

Laurence Pope has arrived in Tripoli as U.S. Chargé d’ Affairs to Libya. Mr. Pope’s selection as Chargé d’ Affairs emphasizes the commitment of the United States to the relationship between our two countries and to the people of Libya as they move forward in their transition to a democratic government. We will continue to assist as Libya builds democratic institutions and broad respect for the rule of law - the goals that Ambassador Stevens worked hard to achieve.

Chargé Pope looks forward to working with the Libyan Government and the Libyan people during this historic and challenging time, as we build strong economic, social, political, and educational bridges between our two people.

Pope served as a Foreign Service Officer from 1969-2000, retiring at the rank of Minister Counselor after having held a number of senior posts in the Department of State. He was the Director for Northern Gulf Affairs (1987–1990), Associate Director for Counter-Terrorism (1991–1993), U.S. Ambassador to Chad (1993–1996), and Political Advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of United States Central Command (1997–2000). In 2000, President Clinton nominated him as Ambassador to Kuwait.

Laurence Pope retired from the U.S. Foreign Service on October 2, 2000 after 31 years of service. He continues to consult with various institutions and is a respected author.

A graduate of Bowdoin College, Chargé Pope also had advanced studies at Princeton University and is a graduate of the U.S. Department of State Senior Seminar, and is a Senior Fellow at the Armed Forces Staff College. He speaks Arabic and French, and resides in Portland, Maine.