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UN Security Council Lifts Sanctions Against Libya

The United Nations Security Council has lifted sanctions imposed against Libya for a 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. The vote was 13-0, with France and the United States abstaining.

The Security Council vote came 15 years after Pan Am flight 103 was blown out of the skies over Lockerbie. The plane was en route from London to New York. All 259 passengers and crew on board were killed, along with 11 people on the ground.

Earlier this year, Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing, and set up a fund to compensate the victims' families. The fund provides $2.7 billion. That amounts to between $5 million and $10 million for each affected family.

France had threatened to veto the resolution, but instead abstained. That change came after Libya agreed to an increase in an earlier settlement for relatives of the victims of a separate, French airliner bombing in 1989.

The United States also abstained. In a statement, however, Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham cautioned that the abstention should not be misconstrued by the world community as tacit acceptance by Washington that Muammar Gadhafi's government has rehabilitated itself.

"The United States continues to have serious concerns about other aspects of Libyan behavior," he said, "including its poor human rights record, its rejection of democratic norms and standards, its irresponsible behavior in Africa, its history of involvements in terrorism, and, most important, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery."

Mr. Cunningham said Washington's decision to accept lifting U.N. sanctions does not signal any change in its own position.

"The United States will intensify its efforts to end Libya's threatening actions," he said. "This includes keeping U.S. bilateral sanctions on Libya in full force."

Those sanctions include a ban on travel and economic ties. U.S. oil companies are also forbidden from doing business in Libya, which is among the top 10 countries in the world in known oil reserves.