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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 October, 2003, 21:35 GMT 22:35 UK
Libya breaks off payout talks
Wreckage of UTA DC10 blown up over Niger in 1989 (archive)
Libya has never accepted responsibility for the UTA bombing
Libya has suspended talks on compensating the families of those killed in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over the Sahara.

The head of the Libyan delegation at the Paris talks accused France of reneging on an interim agreement reached last month.

As a result of that deal, France lifted a threat to block a UN resolution ending sanctions on Libya over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The French Government has been seeking compensation for destruction of the UTA airliner comparable to the $2.7bn agreed for relatives of the 270 Lockerbie victims.

The explosion aboard a Paris-bound DC-10 killed 170 people over Niger in September 1989.

The French foreign ministry tried to wriggle out of the agreement.
Salah Abdel Salam
Head of Libyan delegation
The talks between Libyan officials and the victims' families opened on Tuesday, after the two sides missed a Saturday deadline for a deal set under last month's agreement.

On Monday the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam - who heads a foundation expected to pay for the compensation - insisted on a maximum payout of $1m per victim.

Relatives have rejected this sum, which is much less than the Lockerbie payout.

'Doubts'

The head of the Libyan delegation, Salah Abdel Salam, told the AFP news agency on Tuesday there was no point continuing the negotiations.

"Our doubts (about the talks) were confirmed when the French foreign ministry tried to wriggle out of the agreement," he said.

LIBYA SANCTIONS
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
First imposed in 1992
Bans on flights, arms sales, and oil exports
Freeze on Libyan funds
Reduce Libyan diplomatic representation
Suspended, but not lifted, in 1999

The Libyan Government has accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing - but not for the UTA explosion.

It describes as a humanitarian gesture any compensation it agrees with the French families.

The money is to be paid not by Tripoli, but by Seif al-Islam's Gaddafi International Association for Charitable Organisations - which the Libyan government says is independent.

In 1999 a French court tried six Libyan officials in absentia and found them guilty of organising the bombing.

Libya refused to extradite the six, who include Colonel Gaddafi's brother-in-law, and has always maintained their innocence.

However, it agreed to pay out $33m demanded by the court in compensation.


SEE ALSO:
Libya payout deadline passed
12 Oct 03  |  Africa
UN lifts Libya sanctions
12 Sep 03  |  Africa
Impasse over French bombing deal
24 Aug 03  |  Europe
Libya completes Lockerbie payout
22 Aug 03  |  Americas


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