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UN Chief: Rejected Libya Envoy 'Right Person for the Job'

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FILE - Then-Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad attends an opening reception of Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development in Tokyo.

FILE - Then-Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad attends an opening reception of Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development in Tokyo.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday he regrets the U.S. rejection of his pick to be the world body's next envoy for Libya.

He called former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad "the right person for the right job at the right time."

The United States blocked Fayyad's appointment Friday, with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley saying in a letter the U.S. was "disappointed" by the choice of Fayyad.

"For too long the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel," said Haley.

Libya has struggled for political stability since the 2011 overthrow of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. A U.N.-backed government operates out of Tripoli, but a rival body based in Tobruk does not recognize it. The lack of a solidified government has hurt efforts to rebuild institutions such as the country's security forces.

Guterres said Monday not being able to appoint Fayyad is "a loss for the Libyan peace process and the Libyan people."

The 64-year-old Fayyad is a Western-educated economist who served as Palestinian prime minister from 2007-2013 and also as finance minister.

The United States is among a minority of U.N. members that do not recognize Palestine as an independent state. Officially Palestine is a non-member observer state at the U.N.

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