Hours after three Scottish judges unanimously rendered a guilty verdict on January 31st against Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset Ali Mohamed al-Megrahi for planting the bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people in December 1988, Washington made it clear that its own unilateral sanctions on Tripoli would remain in place and that the Libyan government would have to take several more steps to see the lifting of U.N. sanctions.
U.S. President George W. Bush said that: “I want to assure the families and victims the U.S. government continues to press Libya to accept responsibility for this act and to compensate the families.”
In a separate statement, the White House said that: “U.N. Security Council resolutions call on Libya to satisfy certain requirements, including compensation to the victims’ families and the acceptance of responsibility for this act of terrorism, before U.N. sanctions will be removed.
The government of Libya has not yet satisfied these requirements.”
A spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair also said on January 31st that: “We expect the Libyan authorities to take full responsibility for the actions of their official. We also expect them to pay compensation as awarded by the courts.”
U.N. sanctions imposed on Tripoli in 1992 and 1993, which denied the import of large ticket oil equipment and banned travel, were suspended on April 5th, 1999 after the Libyan government handed over al-Megrahi and Al-Amin Khalifa Fahima for trial in the Netherlands.
The three Scottish judges acquitted Fahima of involvement in the airline bombing. U.N. ambassadors from the U.S., the U.K., and Libya met on January 23rd to set a timetable for discussions on the sanctions in advance of the trial verdict.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on January 30th said that the Lockerbie trial’s outcome would not affect the status of American unilateral sanctions placed on Libya in January 1986.
The U.K. began restoring diplomatic relations with Libya in December 1999 after a 15-year break, sending Richard Dalton to serve as the British ambassador to Tripoli.
Since U.N. sanctions were suspended, a host of European oil firms have flocked to Libya to negotiate on energy deals.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )