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Libya Hopes to Improve Relations with US - 2003-08-17


Libya says it would welcome closer ties with the United States, following Tripoli's formal acceptance of responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderrhmane Chalgam told the Associated Press Sunday the issues surrounding the dispute between the two countries have been resolved. He said Libya and the United States should now focus on anti-terrorism and economic cooperation.

Mr. Chalgam also dismissed reports that the United States might maintain sanctions on Libya despite Tripoli's admission of responsibility for bombing Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish village of Lockerbie. The bombing killed 270 people.

British officials say they are ready to propose lifting United Nations sanctions against Libya in light of the admission, and could submit a resolution to the U.N. Security Council as early as Monday.

The United States says it will not oppose lifting the U.N. sanctions. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has also spoken with French counterpart Dominique de Villepin to try and persuade France not to block the measure.

Paris has threatened to veto the British resolution unless Libya boosts financial compensation to families of the victims of a 1989 bombing of a French UTA airliner over Niger for which Libya was blamed. That bombing killed 170 people.

The Libyan foreign minister, in comments Saturday to CNN, said his country will not bow to what he called "extortion or blackmail" from France.

Meanwhile, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports that Libya is also ready to pay some compensation for a 1986 discotheque bombing in Berlin that killed three people and injured more than 200. The United States blames Libya for the attack, which killed two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman.

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