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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 August, 2003, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
French hurdle in Lockerbie deal
Remains of bombed airliner at Lockerbie
France wants compensation similar to that for the Lockerbie bombing
France has indicated it will push for a settlement with Libya to equal that awarded to victims of the Lockerbie bombing this week.

A French UTA airliner was blown up over Niger in 1989 with the loss of 170 lives.

The compensation demand could mean Paris using its veto at the UN Security Council to stop the expected lifting of sanctions on Libya.

US officials were quoted as saying on Thursday that Washington is furious with the French stance given that Paris had earlier reached a deal with Tripoli.

COMPENSATION
Lockerbie bombing: $2.7bn payout, formal confession of guilt expected
Niger bombing: $34.3m paid and no admission of guilt
Under that deal, 1,000 parties received compensation of between 3,000 and 30,000 euros each - a tiny fraction of the $2.7bn (1.7bn) agreed this week for Lockerbie families.

"We are determined to have the same equitable issue with this UTA aeroplane which has been bombed by the Libyans as the British and the Americans have reached with the Lockerbie case," Jacques Myard, an MP from French President Jacques Chirac's party, told the BBC on Thursday.

"We are not going to accept, let's say, a different solution on both cases."

Mr Myard added that talks were under way with Libya.

Powell calls

US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, phoned the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, on Wednesday in a call said to have centred on the Lockerbie attack, in which almost all the victims were Americans.

This is nothing but sour grapes
US official
No details were available but US officials privately told reporters in Washington that there was little sympathy for the French case at the UN.

Britain is expected to shortly submit a resolution to the Security Council calling for an end to sanctions on Libya.

"Essentially they are protesting as unfair their [own] deal," one US official told Reuters news agency.

"This is nothing but sour grapes," another told France's own AFP agency.

"We're getting a better deal and they're upset."

In France, the government is under pressure to push for greater compensation, correspondents say.

"If there is a vote... we ask that France use its veto as long as we have not obtained full satisfaction," said Francoise Rudetzki, president of SOS-Attentats which represents families of the UTA victims.

France's foreign ministry said last week it would not "waver" in its pursuit of equal compensation.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Dominic Kane
"First payments are expected this weekend, accompanied a letter to the UN from Libya"



SEE ALSO:
US investors eye up Libya
14 Aug 03  |  Business
Libya agrees Lockerbie deal
14 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Lockerbie deal 'a distraction'
14 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Country profile: Libya
16 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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