Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 09:08 UK

New Jersey fury at Gaddafi 'stay'

Libyan mansion in Englewood (24 August 2009)
The Libyan embassy has owned the mansion in Englewood since 1982

Officials in the US state of New Jersey have reacted angrily to the possibility that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may pitch his tent there next month.

Col Gaddafi is expected to set up his Bedouin-style tent on Libyan Embassy-owned land in the town of Englewood as he attends the UN General Assembly.

The town mayor, state governor and legislators said he was not welcome.

They were angered by the "hero's welcome" home given to Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi last week.

A number of the 270 people killed when a Pan Am jet exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 were from New Jersey.

"I want him barred from New Jersey," New Jersey Congressman John Adler said of Col Gaddafi on Wednesday.

Gaddafi is not welcome in New Jersey
Jon Corzine
Governor of New Jersey

"Let him land at the UN by helicopter, do his business and get out of the country."

"People are infuriated that a financier of terrorism, who in recent days gave a hero's welcome to a convicted terrorist, would be welcomed to our shores, let alone reside in our city," Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes told Reuters news agency.

State Governor Jon Corzine echoed his views, saying: "Gaddafi is not welcome in New Jersey."

New Jersey senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg have urged the State Department to limit the Libyan leader's stay to the immediate area around the UN building in New York.

'Raw sensitivities'

Both the US state department and the Libyan Embassy said no decision had yet been taken as to where Col Gaddafi and his entourage will stay when the Libyan leader speaks at the UN on 23 September.

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi and Col Gaddafi
Col Gaddafi further infuriated the UK and US by meeting Megrahi

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the US would keep in mind the "raw sensitivities" of the families of the Lockerbie bombing victims on the issue.

"Our priority has been and will remain the families of the victims of this tragedy," he told reporters.

"We, of course, are sensitive to the concerns of the communities that might be affected by any travel arrangements made for the Libyan delegation."

Col Gaddafi has faced strong criticism from the US and the UK for the jubilant scenes that greeted Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi upon his arrival home in Tripoli a week ago.

The decision by the Scottish government to free the terminally-ill 57-year-old on compassionate grounds has been met with dismay and anger by many of the relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims.

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