Libya Warns U.S. Oil Players over Row


". . .a diplomatic row with Washington could have a negative impact on U.S. businesses in Libya."

Libya's National Oil Company (NOC) said in a statement its chief summoned the local representatives of ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Occidental and Marathon to complain about remarks by a U.S. State Department official on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

"The. . .Secretary of the Management Committee of the National Oil Corporation (Shokri Ghanem) summoned the heads of U.S. oil companies operating in Libya," Reuters quoted NOC as saying in a statement.

"He informed these companies of the resentment at the irresponsible statements made by a State Department spokesman to the media," it said.

The U.S. official who made the remarks, in reference to a speech by Gaddafi calling for a "jihad," or armed struggle, against Switzerland, "did not understand the content and he does not know that such statements will have a negative impact on U.S. companies operating in Libya," it said.

The statement said the U.S. executives at the meeting expressed regret over the spokesman's remarks and said they would inform the U.S. government "that such remarks would hurt oil interests for U.S. companies."

Libya's Foreign Ministry yesterday demanded an apology from the U.S. after State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley made a caustic comment at a press briefing about Gaddafi's call for a jihad against Switzerland.

Libya yesterday also imposed a trade embargo on Switzerland.

That step will have little practical impact because their business ties are minimal but it was the latest escalation in a long-running spat with the Swiss.

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