printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Libya

Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Fact Sheet
January 15, 2013


More information about Libya is available on the Libya Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States established diplomatic relations with Libya in 1951. In 1969, the army overthrew the king, and coup leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi became de facto head of state. Qadhafi tried to brutally suppress an uprising against his dictatorship in 2011. Under the auspices of a UN Security Council resolution, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France launched military action to protect Libyan civilians. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization continued these efforts as "Operation Unified Protector." Qadhafi was killed during the conflict.

Libya faces the challenges of building democratic institutions, protecting the universal rights of all Libyans, promoting accountable and honest government, rebuilding its economy, and establishing security throughout the country. On September 11-12, 2012, armed extremists attacked the U.S. facilities in Benghazi, killing four U.S. Government personnel, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The United States continues to have a strategic interest in a stable and prosperous Libya, and following the attacks in Benghazi, U.S. officials at the highest levels reaffirmed their support for a peaceful, democratic transition in Libya,in cooperation with the UN and other international partners.

U.S. Assistance to Libya

Recognizing Libya's own substantial resources, the United States is committed to providing targeted assistance that advances primary U.S. goals: transparent, strong and accountable security sector institutions in Libya that protect the civilian population; effectively patrol the country’s vast borders; contribute to regional stability; and wrest control of weapons and vast swaths of land from extragovernmental militias. The United States also supports the creation of a democratic Libya that is secure, peaceful, prosperous, and an active member of the international community. A fact sheet on U.S. assistance to Libya can be found here.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Oil revenues constitute Libya's principal source of foreign exchange. In 2011, the U.S. imposed sanctions on the Qadhafi regime following the outbreak of violence against civilians. Most U.S. and UN sanctions against Libyan institutions were lifted at the request of the new Libyan Government. Many U.S. companies, particularly in the oil sector, have resumed their operations in Libya. The United States also has signed a trade and investment framework agreement with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, of which Libya is a member.

Libya's Membership in International Organizations

Libya and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Libya is an observer to the World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

Deborah K. Jones currently serves as Ambassador, other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List .

Libya maintains an embassy in the United States at 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 705, Washington DC 20037 (tel: 202-944-9601).

More information about Libya is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Libya Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
U.S. Embassy: Libya
USAID Libya Page
History of U.S. Relations With Libya
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics International Offices Page
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information

Back to Top

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.