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The BBC's Mark Devenport
"Libya has the support of a majority of Council members"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 02:34 GMT
Libya presses for end to sanctions
fuselage section from Pan Am Flight 103
Sanctions followed implication in the Lockerbie bomb
Libya's United Nations ambassador has said he is optimistic that agreement can be reached in the dispute over the Lockerbie bombing, which would enable sanctions on Tripoli to be permanently lifted.


What's the connection between [Al Megrahi] and the Libyan intelligence agency? None at all

Libyan Ambassador Abuzed Omar Dorda
He was speaking after a meeting with UK and US diplomats in New York, who again demanded that Tripoli pay compensation to the families of the Lockerbie victims and accept responsibility for their officials' actions.

The UK and US, both permanent members of the UN Security Council with the power to veto resolutions, insist both those conditions are met before sanctions can be lifted.

After the meeting, Libyan Ambassador Abuzed Omar Dorda reiterated his view that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was last month found guilty of the bombing, was not acting on behalf of the Libyan Government.

"What's the connection between him and the Libyan intelligence agency? None at all," he said. "When this can be proved, then we will talk about it."

Sanctions suspended

Despite the difference of opinion, all sides agreed the meeting had been constructive.

Mr Dorda was especially positive about his country's future relations with the US.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi
Abdelbaset Al Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment
"We are optimistic that the new administration here, as soon as they know better the background of all these things, they will discover that their interest is to co-operate with Libya and to normalise the relations with Libya," he said.

Sanctions were imposed on Libya in March 1992 after the implication of two Libyans in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988, in which 270 people died.

They were suspended in April 1999 after Libya handed over two suspects for trial.

Al Megrahi was convicted on 31 January and sentenced to life imprisonment by a special Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist in The Netherlands.

Hi co-defendant, Al-Amin Khalifa Fhimah, was acquitted and has returned to Libya.

Support for Libya

Tuesday's three-way meeting was cautiously welcomed by other Security Council members, who want an immediate and permanent lifting of sanctions.

Colonel Gadaffi
Colonel Gadaffi has ruled out compensation
President Said Ben Mustapha of Tunisia said members hoped the dialogue "between the affected parties can progress quickly and lead to a consensus solution to this question of the definitive lifting of the sanctions."

But diplomats said Tunisia and other developing nations on the council did not reintroduce a resolution to lifting the sanctions. Instead they hoped for progress in the talks during closed-door council briefings by US and British dimplomats.

Libya has the support of a majority of Council members: diplomatic sources say 10 of the 15 council members would certainly agree to remove the sanctions if a vote were taken, with two other probables and an abstention.

But a diplomat from one non-aligned country said: "The Libyans are not necessarily in a rush to go for a vote that is likely to be vetoed, since that could close the door on further negotiations with the US."

Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi denies his country's involvement in the bombing, and has ruled out paying compensation until "all the victims of the United States, from Vietnam to Tripoli" have been paid damages.

Libya is subject to separate sanctions imposed by the US, which have not been suspended.

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See also:

05 Feb 01 | World
Gaddafi: Libya is innocent
13 Feb 01 | World
Call to end Libya sanctions
02 Feb 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Gaddafi keeps West guessing
05 Feb 01 | Americas
Lockerbie: Long road to legal claim
02 Feb 01 | Middle East
Tripoli in the spotlight
05 Feb 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Gaddafi's revolution
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