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Israel Welcomes Libya's Renouncement of WMDs - 2003-12-20

Israel has welcomed Libya's decision to renounce its weapons of mass destruction.

Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom says Libya's announcement is a positive move for the Middle East that could help end Libya's isolation.

He says if Libya goes through with its surprise announcement late Friday that it is renouncing all weapons of mass destruction, it would mean, in his words, that "Libya will find its way back to the bosom of the international community."

Israeli officials hope that the move will put pressure on Iran and other countries to abandon any plans they might have to develop atomic weapons.

At the same time, Israeli officials rejected suggestions that they, too, would come clean on Israel's weapons programs.

Israel is widely believed to have missiles with atomic warheads. It has not allowed international inspections of its facilities.

Israel has never admitted to having such arms and will only say that it will not be first country to introduce such weapons into the Middle East.

Most observers believe Israel will never disclose details of its own weapons programs, unless all countries in the region follow the example of Libya.

In a separate development, a journalist for a Hebrew daily newspaper disclosed that he had been granted an impromptu interview with the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

Speaking on the sidelines of a recent conference in Tunisia, Mr. Gadhafi told a journalist from the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that he had "nothing against the United States and against the Jews."

The newspaper says that while Mr. Gadhafi did not deliver an address to the summit, he also told journalists that he condemned terror attacks by al-Qaida. He called leaders of the organization "insane people without emotions".