BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt headed to Libya Tuesday, in the first visit by a Lebanese official to the North African country since the end of Col. Moammar Gadhafi's rule.
Jumblatt left Rakif Hariri International Airport at 9.30 a.m. on a private plane accompanied by Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour and Deputy PSP leader Doreid Yaghi.
Sources close to Jumblatt told The Daily Star the PSP chief was headed to Benghazi, the cradle of the revolt against Ghadhafi, upon an invitation received last week from the National Transition Council – the body recognized by Western nations and other countries as the legitimate authority in Libya until an interim authority is put in place.
Lebanon recognized the NTC on Aug. 23.
The visit, the sources said, would span a number of days and would form the basis for political relations between Jumblatt and the new Libyan regime.
Ties between Lebanon and Libya had been strained under the rule of Gadhafi over the fate of Lebanon’s Imam Musa al-Sadr, an influential Shiite figure who founded the Amal Movement and the Higher Shiite Council.
Sadr and two of his companions went missing in Libya in 1978.
Lebanon’s Judicial Council implicated Gadhafi and 16 of his aides in Sadr’s disappearance in 2009. The council postponed its first trial session in March because Ghaleb Ghanem retired as Judicial Council president and the vacancy had yet to be filled.