Press: Iranians and Libyans to Probe Shiite Cleric's Disappearance
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has agreed to a joint Iranian-Libyan probe into the disappearance in 1978 of a Lebanese Shiite cleric in which Tripoli is suspected of having a hand, a newspaper said Wednesday.
The case of Imam Mussa Sadr, founder of the Lebanese Shiite Amal movement, still envenoms relations between Beirut and Tripoli, which recently withdrew its ambassador from Lebanon amid a row with current Amal leader Nabih Berri.
The London-published Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat, quoting a source close to the Sadr family, said that Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, whose wife is Sadr's niece, had proposed to Kadhafi a joint commission to investigate the cleric's disappearance.
Sadr and two companions vanished while on a trip to Libya, but the Libyans have always said it happened after they had left the country for Italy.
Asharq al-Awsat said an envoy of Khatami had pledged that Iran would publish the results of an inquiry, and clear Libya of blame if the evidence pointed in that direction.
Lebanese Shiites recently demanded that the case be taken to the international court in The Hague, and a visit to Libya by new Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri on November 19 which included a meeting with Kadhafi does not seem to have resolved matters.
On Tuesday Libya's official JANA news agency claimed that Berri, who is speaker of the Lebanese parliament, was behind Sadr's disappearance in order to take over as leader of Amal, which he did in 1980.
Berri angered Tripoli by not inviting its ambassador, Ali Mahmud Maria, to the opening session of the new Lebanese parliament on October 17. He has also cancelled an official reception for the diplomatic corps rather than invite Maria and snubbed a dinner hosted by President Emile Lahoud because Libya's foreign minister was among those present.
Libya recalled Maria on October 23, and its African Unity Minister Abdel Salam Triki told Asharq al-Awsat earlier this month he would not return as long as Berri remained as parliamentary speaker -- BEIRUT (AFP)
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