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UN Action Sets Stage for Debate on Ending Libya Sanctions - 2003-08-19


Britain and Bulgaria have introduced a United Nations resolution to lift sanctions on Libya after Tripoli renounced terrorism and took responsibility for the 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Diplomats say the U.N. Security Council could begin formal debate on the resolution as early as Wednesday, and a vote is expected by Friday.

But France has threatened to veto the current draft. It is demanding a better deal for the families of the 170 people killed in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Niger. Libya was blamed for the attack and paid $33 million to the victims' families. Libya is offering $2.7 billion to the families of the 270 victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

French diplomats say they support lifting sanctions, but want fair treatment to the victims of the French airliner bombing.

The Bush administration is urging France not to block the resolution.

Secretary of State Colin Powell says Washington has no objections to ending U.N. sanctions, but he says separate U.S. sanctions on Libya will remain in effect. He says Libya has a poor human rights record, lacks democracy and is pursuing weapons of mass destruction. Libya is also on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The United Nations imposed sanctions on Libya in 1992 after it initially refused to surrender two suspects in the Lockerbie attack.

The sanctions were suspended in 1999 after Libya gave up two agents charged with planting a bomb on the plane. A Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands sentenced one suspect to life in prison and acquitted the second man.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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