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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 00:39 GMT 01:39 UK
US hints at Lockerbie deal
Lockerbie crash
The 1988 bombing killed 270 people
The US Secretary of State has said a deal is near on securing compensation for the relatives of victims of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Colin Powell spoke after Monday's talks in London between officials from Britain, the US and Libya.

If Libya accepts responsibility for the atrocity, it would then pay $10m for each of the 270 victims over three stages, in return for the lifting of United Nations sanctions.

Mr Powell told reporters in the US: "I think that we're getting closer to a settlement."

Media reports in the US have suggested the deal could be finalised later this week.

Libya is due to make a formal statement to the UN Security Council on 14 August, the Washington Post has said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Powell is optimistic about a deal

The UK Foreign Office described the latest discussions as "constructive".

A spokeswoman said no announcement of a settlement was immediately forthcoming and no further meetings were planned at the moment.

The extent of the reported admission by the Libyan Government is unclear.

There has been speculation that it might accept responsibility for the actions of Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Libyan agent serving a life sentence in Scotland for carrying out the bombing.

Monday's meeting in London followed last week's gathering of lawyers for the families to discuss setting up an account, into which Libya would pay a total of $2.7bn.

A spokesman for the UK Families Flight 103 group, which represents British victims of the Lockerbie bombing, refused to be drawn on reports that a settlement was close.

He said: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently kept the relatives in the dark and they cannot and will not comment on speculation."

The Boeing 747 was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, killing all 259 people on board plus 11 on the ground.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Linden Kemkaran
"If Libya does accept responsibility it will be a hugely significant step"



SEE ALSO:
Libya 'to admit Lockerbie guilt'
06 Aug 03  |  Scotland
Lockerbie 'blame' statement studied
30 Apr 03  |  Scotland


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