Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 11:19 UK

Scotland's standing 'needs work'

Gordon Brown and Muammar Gaddafi
Gordon Brown is expected to meet Colonel Gaddafi at the UN

Scotland's former "ambassador" in the United States has called for a diplomatic charm offensive to help patch up relations with America.

Susan Stewart, who was a Scottish affairs official in the US, said a campaign of public diplomacy is needed after the Lockerbie bomber release.

It comes as Muammar Gaddafi is to address the United Nations in New York.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to meet the Libyan leader ahead of his General Assembly address.

American relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing expressed outrage at the Scottish government's decision to free Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds in August.

Their opposition was echoed at the highest levels in President Barack Obama's administration.

But the former first secretary for Scottish affairs at the British embassy in New York believes the damage to Scottish-American relations can be repaired.

Ms Stewart said bodies such as VisitScotland, Scottish Trade International and the Scottish government need to mount a campaign of public diplomacy to help ease transatlantic tensions.

Megrahi
The release of Libyan Megrahi thrust Scotland into the global spotlight

She told BBC Scotland: "I think undoubtedly there has been some short-term damage to the relationship between Scotland and the United States, but I don't think that damage is irrevocable.

"Their perspective on Lockerbie I think is that it was an attack on the United States and on their citizens, which makes the anger and the hurt that many Americans feel very real.

"So, yes there has been a problem but not one I think that we can't get past."

Meanwhile, the prime minister will meet Colonel Gaddafi at the United Nations on Thursday in their first encounter since the release of Megrahi, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Britain's relations with Libya are under the spotlight after the early release of the Libyan agent convicted of the 1988 bombing in which 270 people were killed.

The paper said Mr Brown would use the meeting to highlight Colonel Gaddafi's 2003 decision to scrap Libya's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, leading to closer ties with Western nations.

Demonstrators have announced they will protest against the Libyan leader - who is due to make his first address in 40-years to the UN - over the release of Megrahi.



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