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Britain Praises Libya for WMD Agreement - 2003-12-20


Britain is heaping more praise on Libya after it was disclosed late Friday that the country has agreed to dismantle of its weapons of mass destruction.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw hails Moammar Gadhafi's decision as statesmanlike and courageous.

Mr. Straw says the Libyan decision was the result of secretive, quiet, painstaking diplomacy spread over many months where confidence was gradually built by both sides.

The foreign secretary says questions over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction could have been resolved in the same way but in the end, he says, the military option was the only option left there.

"We never had any serious offer of negotiation from the Iraqis," he said. "Indeed the 12 years after the Gulf war were characterized by open defiance, a refusal to accept the will of the United Nations as well as continuation of his terror. What we have had in respect of Colonel Gadhafi and the Libyan government in recent years is a willingness by them to negotiate and to accept that there is a pathway for peace for the region, peace for the world, but also prosperity and security for their own country."

While adding that Britain is not as directly involved in the North Korean discussions as it has been with the Libyans, Mr. Straw said he hopes the decision taken by Colonel Gadhafi can show the North Koreans that a peaceful solution is a very real possibility.

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