A tent was erected on a property in Westchester County, New York, in anticipation of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s visit to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly, police told CNN affiliate WABC Tuesday.
Westchester County police confirmed the tent was set up for Gadhafi in Bedford, WABC reported. The station shot aerial video of the large tent on the property. New York state Sen. Vincent Liebell confirmed to WABC that Gadhafi had rented the property. “He’s not going to have many fans in Bedford or Westchester County, certainly not me,” the senator said. “There’s not going to be any welcome mat for him in Bedford.” The property is owned by the Trump Organization, which said in a statement: “We have business partners and associates all over the world. The property was leased on a short-term basis to Middle Eastern partners, who may or may not have a relationship to Mr. Gadhafi. We are looking into the matter.” County Executive Andy Spano said earlier Tuesday he had heard unconfirmed reports that Gadhafi may be staying there. “There is no legal way to prevent this, as he is a head of state, despite the fact that he has a long history as a terrorist,” Spano said in a statement. “However, from my point of view, he is not welcome in Westchester.”
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It was unclear whether the tent was erected in Bedford or Mount Kisko. But a CNN producer on the scene said signs reading “No parking, under the order of Bedford Police Department” were posted outside the property. State Department officials said there are no limitations on Gadhafi’s visa that would prevent him from traveling to the area. They said their understanding was that Gadhafi was not staying at the tent, but was visiting and having meetings there. He is staying in New York, the officials said. Under the Foreign Mission Act, the United States does have the right to restrict travel by diplomats to within a certain distance of U.N. headquarters, but the officials said Westchester County is within that radius. The Libyan leader often takes an ornate Bedouin tent with him on international trips, using it to entertain and hold meetings. Last month, the State Department put to rest speculation that Gadhafi would pitch his tent on the lawn of a residence owned by the Libyan government in Englewood, New Jersey. Department spokesman Ian Kelley said the property was “not available,” and that the State Department had consulted with the Libyan government about the matter. The department had been working to persuade the Libyans to find an alternative location for Gadhafi’s tent amid fierce opposition by Englewood residents. Anger at Gadhafi was stirred last month when he permitted a large welcome for Abdelbeset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988. Al Megrahi was released by Scottish authorities on compassionate medical grounds, and the celebration of his homecoming infuriated some families of the Pan Am 103 victims, some of whom live in New Jersey. The U.N. General Assembly begins Wednesday.