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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Lockerbie 'blame' statement studied
Lockerbie crash
The bombing killed 270 people

Officials in London and Washington are discussing a statement from Libya which appears to accept responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing.

Latest reports over the long-running compensation issue suggest a fund to compensate victims' families has been created.

In a statement, Libya's Foreign Minister Mohammed Abderrahmane Chalgam said: "We have taken on the responsibility for this case on the basis of the international law which states that the state takes on responsibility for what its employees do,"

Libyan intelligence agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988, killing 259 people on the board and 11 residents in Lockerbie, Scotland.

Responding to the statement, British Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien said efforts were being made to agree all the details of a deal.

Delicate negotiations

The BBC diplomatic correspondent says the cautious reaction from Britain and the United States, and the lack of much public comment, reflects the delicacy of the negotiations.

The fear was that although the parties were not far apart, things could still go wrong, our correspondent said.

The families of the victims are due to receive about $10m (6.2m) each in three instalments, according to the statement from Tripoli.

The money is said to be being collected from businessmen and companies inside and outside the country with the aim of US sanctions on Libya being lifted following payment of the first two instalments.

'Familiar road'

David Ben-Aryeah, a spokesman for the families of many British victims, said they had heard nothing new from their lawyers regarding the compensation deal.

Mr Ben-Aryeah said: "Actions speak louder than words and we will believe this when the arrangements have been confirmed with the lawyers, when the first payment has been received and the cheques have cleared through the bank accounts.

"This is a road the UK relatives have been down many times before."




SEE ALSO:
Hopes remain for Lockerbie deal
13 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Progress in Lockerbie talks
11 Mar 03  |  Scotland
Bomber's family return to Libya
26 Feb 03  |  Scotland


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