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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 December, 2003, 01:26 GMT
Israel 'relieved' by Libya move

By James Reynolds
BBC Jerusalem correspondent

Libya's leader Colonel Gaddafi
Israel hopes Gaddafi's move will put pressure on Iran
Israel will be surprised and relieved by the news that Libya has agreed to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programme.

Israel has long seen Colonel Gaddafi as a dangerous and unpredictable enemy.

One Israeli security source has said that he hopes the news will encourage all other Arab states in the region to follow suit.

But perhaps Israel's main hope will be that the announcement puts pressure on Iran.

Earlier this week, in a rare public appearance the head of Israel's internal security agency, Avi Dichter, called Iran the "number one terror nation".

Widespread mistrust

Across the Arab world there has so far been a cautious reaction to the announcement about Libya.

The Qatar-based news channel, al-Jazeera, has broadcast the news in a short scheduled bulletin but it has not interrupted its normal programming.

And some in the Arab world may see the news with a sense of unease.

There has long been a widespread mistrust of American and British motives in the Middle East.

Ordinary people often see close co-operation with Washington and London as capitulation.

Many want the Americans and the British to focus not on weapons programmes in Arab states but rather on Israel's nuclear weapons - a subject that the Jewish state never discusses.

Prime Minister Tony Blair
"This decision by Colonel Gaddafi... will make the region and the world more secure"

The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"It looks like Libya will now be welcomed back into the international community"

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