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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 22:10 GMT
Gaddafi: Libya 'let down' by West
Muammar Gaddafi during the BBC interview
Col Gaddafi said "the era of hostility...is behind us"
In an exclusive interview with the BBC's diplomatic correspondent James Robbins in the town of Sebha, Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi says his country has not been properly compensated for renouncing its nuclear weapons programme in 2003.

No question, Muammar Gaddafi is a changed man.

When we met in the town of Sebha - not in a tent this time but in a modern conference room - Col Gaddafi seemed much more the conventional politician... No women bodyguards in sight...

Britain and America now suggest the Libyan leader is a model for others to follow.

Libya abolished its programme without any compensation... This destroyed that model... no-one is going to follow that model as a result
Col Muammar Gaddafi

Libya - by rejecting terrorism and then, in 2003, surrendering its nuclear and other unconventional weapons research - earned the lifting of sanctions and lost the status of a pariah.

But still Col Gaddafi can be combative.

"Libya has not been properly compensated, so other countries, like Iran and North Korea will not follow his lead."

"This should be a model to be followed, but Libya is disappointed because the promises given by America and Britain were not fulfilled...

"And therefore those countries said we are not going to follow Libya's example because Libya abolished its programme without any compensation... This destroyed that model... no-one is going to follow that model as a result," he said.

'Lost out'

So, I asked him, what more Britain and the United States should do and what they are failing to do.

Libyan women carry placard praising Col Gaddafi. File photo
Col Gaddafi's stamp is imprinted on every aspect of Libyan life

"We haven't seen Britain or the United States and the European Union setting up power stations in Libya to transform our programmes from weapons purposes to peaceful uses," Col Gaddafi said.

"I believe that Libyans as a whole think that Britain and the United States have won, and we have lost out."

Still, that does not mean Libya is slipping back to the old ways.

Col Gaddafi may be bargaining for greater foreign investment, but terrorism is out.

"Libya will never go back. I believe that the era of hostility and confrontation is behind us."

Iraq

Col Gaddafi talked of Britain's prime minister as "my friend, Tony Blair", but he was highly critical of the situation in Iraq.

"This is a matter which is obvious... it doesn't need clarification from me.

"The world is unified in its position to the American people. It's not out of sympathy for the Iraqi people alone, but also the American people, who have paid the price in an unnecessary war based on false foundations.

"Thousands of Americans have been killed on the basis of wrong information. Who is going to bring back those hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed? What has happened in Iraq makes all peoples in the world feel unsafe..."

Post-Gaddafi

But when I asked whether it was still possible for Libya to work with the Western world for mutual benefit, to work constructively with Britain and the US, Col Gaddafi was emphatic.

"Yes, that is quite possible, we are working to achieve that."

Col Gaddafi remains under pressure though at home and internationally - to accelerate economic reform, to reduce reliance on oil and gas, to share more real power with his people.

He's been in power for almost 40 years now.

On Friday, he was celebrating 30 years of the political system he invented - Jamahiriya.

He calls it "direct democracy" - rule by the people, though opponents see it as a cover for dictatorship.

Col Gaddafi said he would like to see a time Libya did not need him as leader - because self-rule through local communes and committees reporting decisions up to the centre was working without the need for a ruler.

But he shows no sign of giving up power.


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Colonel Gaddafi speaks to the BBC's James Robbins



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