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The BBC's Frank Gardner in Tripoli
"Libya's Foreign Minister had one word to say, never"
 real 28k

Hebah Saleh reports from Cairo
"Libya and the West have made it clear they want to move past this affair"
 real 28k

Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 12:36 GMT
Arab League backs Libya
Arab League headquarters
The Arab League urges end to sanctions on Libya
The Arab League has called for a total lifting of UN sanctions on Libya, following the conviction of an alleged Libyan agent for the Lockerbie bombing.

"The Security Council must take immediate steps to permanently lift the sanctions imposed on Libya," said the head of the Arab League, Esmat Abdel Meguid.


Now that the court has ended the case, the sanctions must be lifted completely.

Libyan Foreign Ministry
The government in Tripoli has said it will never accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing, even though Libyan intelligence agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was sentenced to life imprisonment for the attack.

Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgam said it was an individual who had been found guilty and not the Libyan state.

Diplomatic efforts

Asked by the BBC if Libya will accept responsibility, the country's foreign minister, Abdel Rahman Shalgam, replied: "Never".

Earlier, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hassouna Chiouch, said that: "Now that the court has ended the case, the sanctions must be lifted completely."

In the meantime, diplomatic efforts are being stepped up to try to resolve the conflicting demands of those seeking to normalise relations with Tripoli.

Esmat Abdel Meguid
The head of the Arab League supports Libya
But President George W Bush insists that Libya must take responsibility for the bombing and pay compensation before the lifting of sanctions will be considered.

President Bush said: "The United States Government will continue to pressure Libya to accept responsibility for this act and to compensate the families."

Damage

Libya is demanding compensation of its own, for the damage caused by the sanctions, which were imposed by the UN in 1992.

Abuzed Dorda, Libya's UN envoy, said: "Libya had nothing to do with this tragedy at all. We're looking forward really to opening a new page between our country and the United States."

The UN Security Council imposed sanctions in March 1992, and toughened them in November 1993 when Tripoli refused to hand over the two suspects for trial.

The sanctions, including an embargo on commercial flights and some trade, as well as a freezing of assets, were suspended after Libya finally complied in April 1999.

UN sanctions
Embargo on commercial flights and some trade
Freezing of assets
Suspended April 1999
US sanctions
Ban on sale of oil-related equipment
Air and arms embargo
The United States has imposed its own sanctions, including an air and arms embargo and a ban on the sale of some oil-related equipment.

US relatives of the Lockerbie bomb victims say Libya was guilty of terrorism and should be considered a "rogue nation".

Bert Ammerman, whose brother died in the bombing, said: "Al Meghrahi's guilty verdict leads to the doorstep of Gaddafi."

American relatives are pursuing a civil case against Colonel Gaddafi and hope to use the verdict to further this.

US officials are expected to meet Libyan representatives in New York next week to spell out exactly what Tripoli has to do to get the sanctions lifted.

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