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Gadhafi Says Other Nations Should Follow Libya's Example - 2004-04-27


Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has hailed his first visit to Europe in 15 years as historic and followed up his renunciation of weapons of mass destruction with a pledge to work for world peace.

For Libya, Colonel Gadhafi's visit to European Union headquarters is an important step toward a better relationship with the West. For Europe, it is a chance to show off an example of a former rogue state which has abandoned its bad old ways.

In the past year, Colonel Gadhafi gave up his weapons of mass destruction program, compensated the victims of two airliner bombings and said he had severed his ties to groups the West has labeled terrorists.

That has brought an end to most sanctions against the North African state and the prospect of better relations with the West.

At a joint appearance with European Commission president Romano Prodi, Colonel Gadhafi portrayed Libya as a country whose decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction has made it an apostle of peace.

"Libya has become an example to be followed," he said. "I believe that the noose will be tightened gradually on those who possess and have such weapons. Libya has secured itself more by discarding such programs, more than having or possessing such programs or weapons."

In a lengthy statement, with a visibly uncomfortable Mr. Prodi standing at his side, Colonel Gadhafi harangued reporters on such subjects as the failure of European colonialism and Europe's need for immigrants.

Showing flashes of his old unpredictability, he called for all nations, including the United States and China, to follow Libya's example and give up their weapons of mass destruction. He added that the Mediterranean Sea, where the U.S. Sixth Fleet is based, should be demilitarized.

Mr. Prodi, who has cultivated a relationship with the Libyan leader for years, hailed Libya's decision to break with the past and said he is committed to bringing the country into the EU trade-and-aid plan for the Mediterranean.

"[This is] the result of five years of personal contacts and discussions, open discussions between the two of us," he said. "I welcome the Libyan statement of promotion of peace, stability, prosperity in the Mediterranean-African regions. The European Union shares these objectives and wants to work on them together with Libya."

Libya faces stumbling blocks before it can get EU aid. Germany wants compensation for an allegedly Libyan-inspired bombing of a Berlin disco in 1986, and other EU countries want six Bulgarian medics detained on charges of deliberately infecting Libyan children with the AIDS virus to be freed.

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