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France Praises Libya's Decision to Abandon WMD Program - 2003-12-20

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin praises Libya's surprising decision to abandon its programs to build weapons of mass destruction.

Foreign Minister de Villepin described Tripoli's decision to renounce its weapons program as, "a success for the entire international community." He said it was also an important step in Libya's return to the international fold.

Mr. de Villepin also singled out the United States and Britain for special praise in getting Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, to abandon the weapons programs.

But the French diplomat also called on Libya to implement without delay an agreement to reimburse families of the victims of a French airliner crash over Niger. Libya was blamed for the 1989 bombing of the UTA DC-10 plane in which 170 people were killed.

In September, Paris threatened to veto a United Nations resolution to lift sanctions against Libya after Tripoli agreed to a $2.7 billion compensation package to families of victims in the separate, 1988 airliner bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The French government dropped its threat after reaching a compensation agreement in the UTA affair. But the money has yet to be paid.