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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 20:20 GMT 21:20 UK
Libya agrees bombing deal
Wreckage of UTA DC10 blown up over Niger in 1989 (archive)
The UTA bombing claimed 170 lives
France and Libya are finalising details of a deal in which Libya will pay compensation for the bombing of a French airliner in 1989, paving the way for UN sanctions on Tripoli to be lifted.

The new agreement comes after France protested that the original settlement four years ago had been dwarfed by the $2.7bn Libya has agreed to pay relatives of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing victims.

The accord could end the threatened French veto on lifting United Nations diplomatic and economic sanctions on Libya.

"The basis of an accord has been found and in the coming hours we will be finalising the deal... Negotiations are ongoing between the victims families, the French associations and the Gaddafi foundation," French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, said.

But France has denied Libya's agreement to pay compensation was directly linked to France dropping its veto of a lifting of sanctions against Libya.

"It is not a quid pro quo, but it is very true that once this matter is solved then we will be in a position to draw conclusions regarding the lifting of sanctions," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous told the BBC's Newshour programme.

A new resolution may be put to a vote as early as this week, a UK Foreign Office spokesman told the AFP news agency.

LIBYA SANCTIONS
First imposed in 1992
Flight ban
Weapons sales ban
Freeze on Libyan funds
Ban oil-related exports to Libya
Reduce Libyan diplomatic representation

A relative of one victim said the deal amounted to a recognition of guilt.

"I think that since they are about to pay, it's a way of recognising their implication and their involvement in the bombing so, although they are not going to say 'yes, we did it and we put the bomb', if they are paying it means they are responsible," Claire Julhait, daughter of Laurence Penon, a flight attendant on the UTA Flight 772, told the BBC.

Libya has not yet accepted responsibility for the 1989 bombing of the flight over the Sahara Desert - and the latest money will be paid to families of the 170 victims not by the Libyan Government, but by the foundation headed by one of Colonel Gaddafi's sons.

The Gaddafi International Association for Charitable Organizations (GIACO) has played a major role in efforts to improve Libya's image abroad.

'Case closed'

In a statement on Monday, the foundation said the money would come from a privately financed "fund for the victims of terrorism".

The new deal would "resolve" the cases of six Libyans convicted by a French court in absentia in 1999 of bombing the plane, it added.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
In managing this dangerous conflict with nuclear states, money is not important - we have our dignity and we are not interested in money
Muammar Gaddafi

Libya never extradited the six and the foundation maintains that they are innocent.

But Charles Norrie who lost his brother on the French flight, says he wanted the men to pay for their crime.

"They are free in Libya at the moment and in reality they should face prison in France," he added.

Saad Djebbar, a lawyer who advised the Libyan Government on the Lockerbie deal, told the BBC this was unlikely to happen.

"The Libyans have got very good relations with France - and remember that the French demands were totally different to those Pan Am demands made by the US and the UK.

"The French never insisted on the extradition of the Libyan suspects... All they wanted was the payment of compensation and they considered the case closed."

Disco bombing

The latest agreement was announced on Sunday by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in a televised address to the nation to mark the anniversary of a coup which bought him to power 34 years ago.

"The problem over the UTA case is over and the Lockerbie case is now behind us. We are opening a new page in our relations with the West," he said.

The Gaddafi foundation has also offered to pay compensation to the relatives of the victims of a disco bombing that killed three people in Berlin in 1986.

People of 17 nationalities including Africans, Americans, Britons and Italians were on UTA Flight 772.

Libya paid out $33m in compensation on the orders of a Paris court in 1999.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt reports from Paris
"For the families of the victims... these are emotional times"



SEE ALSO:
Impasse over French bombing deal
24 Aug 03  |  Europe
Libya completes Lockerbie payout
22 Aug 03  |  Americas


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