Libya is giving US oil firms one year to return to the country or risk losing their operating licenses, Foreign Minister Muhammad Abdul Rahman Shalgam was quoted saying in Monday press.
"Libya wants American firms to resume their activities in Libya's oil fields but we are giving them one year to return. After that they will be forced to leave because of US economic sanctions against Libya," he said.
He was speaking after talks Sunday, September 2, with his Italian counterpart Renato Ruggiero, the Al-Hayat paper said. Ruggiero was quoted in the Italian press Monday saying that Libyan leader Muamar Kadhafi wants to normalize relations with Washington.
The daily Corriere della Sera said Kadhafi had on Sunday given Ruggiero a message for US President George W. Bush but gave no further details. Italy is the main economic partner of its former colony.
Washington considers Libya a "rogue state" that supports international terrorism and develops weapons of mass destruction. Diplomatic relations with Tripoli are also frozen amid US contentions that Libya has not yet taken full responsibility for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people nor has it adequately compensated the families of victims.
Bush in August extended for five years a 1996 sanctions act that curbs foreign investment in the petroleum and gas industries of Libya and Iran. The sanctions allow the US government to penalize foreign businesses with more than $20 million invested annually in either Iran's or Libya's energy sector.
Under the new law, the president has the power to waive the provisions citing the national interest and the administration must report to Congress on the sanctions' success in two years. Bush held out hope of better relations with both countries if they chose to cooperate on terrorism and on bridging other differences with the United States. — (AFP, Cairo)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )