Saturday, August 16, 2003

Libya: Lockerbie deal run down

Here is the full-text of the letter Libya sent to the Security Council on Friday, accepting responsiblity of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. US and UK also sent a letter to the Security Council stating they were ready to see the UN sanctions lifted.

Note: Libya (the country/government) is not taking responsibility for the bombing ... it's accepting responsiblity for the actions of its "officials".

The UK said today that it will shortly introduce a resolution before the Security Council which will call for UN sanctions against Libya to be lifted.

The US will maintain sanctions against Libya and keep it on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But indications are that the US will abstain when the resolution is brought to a vote in the Security Council.

Right now, it's France which seems likely to scuttle the resolution with a veto. France wants a settlement -- for the 1989 bombing of UTA Flight 772 over Niger which killed 170 people -- that is equal to that awarded the victims of Lockerbie. Though Libya never admitted responsibility for the bombing of the UTA flight, it did pay about $30 million to settle claims by the victims' families.

In an interview with CNN today, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderrhmane Chalgam said that Tripoli would not accept what he called "any kind of extortion" from France.

According to this Finciancial Times story, the $2.7 billion is not paid out all at once.
Under the agreement, they [the families] are to be paid $4m each when United Nations sanctions are lifted, $4m when separate US commercial sanctions are lifted and $2m when Libya is removed from the US State Department's terrorism watchlist.
Here is another bit from the same FT article that is quite interesting. It seems that Libya has been protecting/honoring the assets/stakes of those US oil companies forced out out of the country following the imposition of US sanctions in 1986. The US companies are: ConocoPhillips, Amerada Hess and Marathon.

Der Spiegel, in an issue due out Monday, also reports that Libya has promised Germany compensation for the 1986 bombing in a west Berlin nightclub. According to Der Spiegel, Libya made the offer several months ago. There doesn't seem to be official confirmation of the story from the German government.

Recall that it was the nightclub bombing in 1986, which killed three US servicemen, which prompted the US to launch air strikes against Libya and impose sanctions. The air strikes killed about 40 Libyans, including Qadhafi's adopted daughter.

Earlier this year, a profile of Muammar Qadhafi appeared in the New York Times Magazine. You have to pay to get the article on the NY Times site ... but the owner of this site seems to have copied the entire article. It's an interesting read and the story helps make some sense of how the Lockerbie deal came about.