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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 22:22 GMT
Libya accepts Lockerbie blame
Libyan Foreign Minister Abdulrahman Shalgam
Mr Shalgam issued a clarification
Libya has reaffirmed that it does accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, a day after it appeared to reverse its stand on the matter.

It issued a statement regretting the comments of the prime minister, who denied Libya's part in the attack.

The 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Scotland killed 270 people.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has expressed confidence that relations with Tripoli would soon be back on track despite the diplomatic incident.

We continue to stick to our position and recent statements that cast doubt on these positions are inaccurate
Abdulrahman Shalgam
Libyan Foreign Minister

"I think that this is just a little blip that will go away and we'll be back on track with our policy towards Libya," Mr Powell said on Wednesday.

The thaw in relations was threatened on Tuesday when Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem told the BBC that Libya had "bought peace" when it agreed to pay $2.7bn compensation to the victims' families - rather than accepting guilt.

But Libya's Foreign Minister Abdulrahman Shalgam issued a statement on Wednesday saying that Libya did accept responsibility for the bombing over the town of Lockerbie.

"We continue to stick to our position and recent statements that cast doubt on these positions are inaccurate," he said.

Raising restrictions

Earlier Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said Mr Shalgam had assured the UK government through "diplomatic channels" that Tripoli did accept responsibility.

The BBC's state department correspondent Jon Leyne says Britain, the US and Libya have moved quickly to repair the damage caused by the Libyan prime minister's comments.

He says the lifting of travel restrictions banning Americans from travelling to Libya is expected to go ahead in the next day or two.

The US had been due to lift the 23-year travel ban on Tuesday, but the step was postponed following Tripoli's remarks.

Last August, Libya agreed to pay the compensation, and also wrote a letter to the United Nations Security Council accepting responsibility for the bombing, opening the way for the lifting of sanctions and renewed ties with the West.

Relations have warmed in recent months following the decision by Libya's leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, to dismantle weapons-of-mass-destruction programmes.


SEE ALSO:
Dismay over Libyan PM's claims
24 Feb 04  |  Politics
Blair set for talks with Gaddafi
10 Feb 04  |  Politics


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