U.N. Votes to Lift Sanctions Against Libya
The 1988 bombing of Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people and the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airliner over the Niger desert, which killed 170.
The United States and France abstained from the Security Council vote. The other 13 council nations supported lifting sanctions that included a ban on arms sales and flights into the country.
Moammar Gadhafi’s government was implicated in two airliner bombings in the late 1980s: The 1988 bombing of Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people and the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airliner over the Niger desert, which killed 170.
Libyan state radio called the U.N. vote “another victory,” Reuters reported. “With that vote Libya is entering another stage and opening another page thanks to its ability and wisdom in handling the battle,” the radio station said.
The vote is considered largely symbolic since the U.N. sanctions have been suspended for more than four years.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the lifting of U.N. sanctions “marks a new and welcome chapter in Libya’s relationship with the international community based on cooperation, not confrontation.”
U.S. sanctions against Triopli will remain in place. They include a ban on American oil companies doing business with Libya and prohibitions on the United States entering weapons contracts and business ventures with the country. The sanctions also block most U.S. travel to Libya.
U.S. deputy ambassador James Cunningham said the American decision to allow the lifting of U.N. sanctions “should not be misconstrued by Libya or by the world community as tacit U.S. acceptance that the government of Libya has rehabilitated itself.”
He cited Libya’s “poor human rights record … its history of involvement in terrorism, and, most important, its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.”
The British resolution was submitted after the Libyan government reached a settlement with the families of the Lockerbie victims in mid-August in which the country took responsibility for the bombing and agreed to pay each family as much as $10 million. A key stipulation, however, dictates that $4 million will be paid after U.N. sanctions are lifted and more if the U.S. sanctions are eased and the county is removed from the State Department’s list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
Rosemary Wolfe, whose 20-year-old daughter, Miriam, was killed in the Pan Am bombing, told the Associated Press that the lifting of sanctions was “bittersweet” because Gadhafi “hasn’t been truly held accountable” and only one Libyan was convicted.
“It was a business deal,” Wolfe told the news service. “We need to get the rest of the truth and we need to get justice for those who were involved in this.”
Families of the UTA bombing victims announced Thursday a framework for a separate agreement with Libya that brought a previous settlement more in line with the $2.7 billion Pan Am pay-out. In 1999, France settled with Libya for $33 million to be shared by the families, which amounted to some $194,000 for each victim.
Figures on the new UTA compensation deal are not expected to be released until the deal is finalized.
France, one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with veto power, had threatened for more than three weeks to veto the vote on lifting U.N. sanctions if the UTA victims weren’t given more compensation.
Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Gadhafi and head of the private fund that will handle the UTA payments, said the new agreement would also involve some political demands on France, such as upgrading Libya’s relations with the country.
“It is a political accord covering various areas. The compensation is just one part of an overall settlement with France,” he told French daily Le Figaro.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman repeated that France would not oppose the lifting of U.N. sanctions and that Saif al-Islam’s comments “were not an official government statement,” according to a Reuters report.