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International Community Applauds Libya's Announcement on WMDs - 2003-12-20

The international community has warmly welcomed Libya's decision to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program, with praise coming from continents around the world including Asia, Africa and Europe.

China's foreign ministry said it is the consensus of the international community to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and political and diplomatic means are an efficient way of resolving such issues.

A Japanese government spokesman, quoted by Kyodo news agency, said the development is a step forward towards the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. He said the decision shows that Libya has become cooperative with the international community.

From the Middle East, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher said Libya's decision is an example for others in the region to follow.

South Africa said the move will further create conditions for Africa to achieve a continent free of weapons of mass destruction.

In Europe, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he is satisfied by the surprise announcement.

France, for its part, said the decision is an important step by Libya towards rejoining the international community. Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin also called on Tripoli to rapidly comply with agreed compensation for the 1989 bombing of a French jetliner over Niger. Libya has agreed to pay more than $30 million to families of the 170 victims, but talks are continuing for a more generous payout.

And in Britain Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi showed huge statesmanship in making the move, which was the result of many months of painstaking diplomacy. Britain, the United States and Libya Friday announced Tripoli's agreement to disclose all its weapons of mass destruction and related programs.