US sending diplomatic team to Libyan capital

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is sending a small team of diplomats to Tripoli this weekend to prepare for the eventual opening of the U.S. Embassy in Libya.

The team will be led by Joan Polaschik, who was No. 2 at the embassy before the Obama administration ordered staff to leave the country in February, early in the Libyan uprising.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says having a policy team in Tripoli will give the U.S. direct diplomatic contact with Libya’s de facto government and representatives of the international community in the city.

She said Friday the U.S. will maintain a diplomatic presence in Benghazi for the time being.

The embassy won’t be reopened officially until repairs are made. It was significantly vandalized during the conflict between Moammar Gadhafi’s regime and pro-reform opponents.