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Libya Gives Up WMD Program to Focus on Development Projects

Libyan officials say the country decided to scrap its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction to focus on development projects.

Libya's foreign minister told the Arab Al-Jazeera TV network his government is scrapping its banned weapons program to concentrate on development projects and normalizing relations with the United States.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderhmane Chalgam told the TV interviewer the weapons program did not benefit the people of Libya.

Libya's announcement that it would end its weapons of mass destruction program has been welcomed in Washington and European capitals. Until now, Washington has maintained an economic boycott has restricted travel for U.S. citizens to Libya.

Washington has long insisted Libya had a secret weapons program and hidden stockpiles. The United States declared Libya a terrorist state in 1979 and relations steadily soured from that time.

Earlier this year, U.N. sanctions were eased after Libya accepted responsibility for the 1988 bombing of an American airliner over Scotland. Washington says it is not ready yet to lift its economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Libya's foreign minister described the decisions this year as part of efforts to normalize relations with U.S. and European governments, which he says would benefit the Libyan people.

The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi told the CNN TV Saturday the decision to scrap the weapons program would make it clear Libya has no military nuclear ambitions.

He said Libya intended to use the nuclear system for civilian projects but the government was aware the systems could be converted for military use.

He stressed that Libya did not have any biological activities.

The announcement came after nearly a year of secret talks led by Britain and the United States. The negotiations coincided with the start of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which aimed in part to rid Iraq of hidden toxic arsenals. But Mr. Gadhafi's son says the Iraq war had nothing to do with Libya's decision to abandon its weapons program.