Accessibility links

US Congressional Delegation Meets Gadhafi in Libya

A U.S. congressional delegation has met with Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, in the first visit of its kind since Colonel Gadhafi came to power in 1969.

Republican U.S. congressman and delegation head Curt Weldon called Monday's meeting "an extremely positive two hours." Democratic colleague Solomon Ortiz described the meeting as warm and said both sides "want to forget the past."

The meeting comes about a month after Colonel Gadhafi's surprise announcement that Libya is closing all its programs related to weapons of mass destruction. The Libyan leader said he hoped the move would lead to the end of U.S. economic sanctions, which have been in force since the mid-1980s.

Democratic U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos predicted that bilateral relations would be normal and that embassies would re-open in both countries within a year.

The Gadhafi announcement followed nine months of secret talks with British and U.S. intelligence officials that led to Libya's decision to compensate families of victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. One Libyan intelligence agent was convicted and another acquitted by a Scottish court for the bombing, which killed 270 people

Monday's meeting took place in a white tent erected beside the ruins of a house where Colonel Gadhafi's daughter was killed in 1986 in a U.S. air attack aimed at the Libyan leader.

The United States has had no diplomatic presence in Libya since 1980, when American embassy staff left shortly before the embassy building was ransacked and burned.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.