The president said Gadhafi has agreed to allow international inspectors into the country and grant them unfettered access to any weapons facilities. The North African country also agreed to limit the range of its missiles to no greater than 187 miles.
“With today’s announcement by its leader, Libya has begun the process of rejoining the community of nations. And Colonel Gadhafi knows the way forward,” President Bush said.
British and U.S. diplomats have been in secret talks with Tripoli for nine months, according to the president.
In September, the United Nations voted to end sanctions against Libya after Gadhafi’s government took responsibility for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am passenger jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, and agreed to pay $2.7 billion to families of the 270 victims.
However, the United States kept its own 17-year embargo in place, claiming that Libya actively sponsors terrorists and is actively developing biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.
President Bush said the war in Iraq and efforts to curtail North Korea’s nuclear program had sent a clear message to countries such as Libya that they must abandon weapons programs.
Libya’s foreign ministry released a statement saying that Libya “had decided on its free will to … completely eliminate the internationally banned weapons of mass destruction.”
The official statement, from which Reuters obtained an excerpt, said the decision was in line with Libya’s pledge to make the Middle East and Africa a nuclear-free area.