Global Policy Forum

UN Encouraged By Libya But Has


Evelyn Leopold

March 2, 1999

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday he was encouraged by comments from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi but had received no official response on the surrender of suspects accused of bombing a Pan Am jet over Scotland in 1988.

Gaddafi, in a speech Tuesday in the coastal city of Benghazi, said that "a final agreement is expected.'' He said he asked the Libyan people to trust South African President Nelson Mandela and Saudi Arabian officials who "asked us to accept'' provisions for the handover of the two Libyans.

Annan, in answer to questions at a news conference, said he had seen reports on Gaddafi's statement. "If it is indeed accurate, it is an encouraging sign. I did not hear from leader Gaddafi,'' he said.

At issue is the surrender for trial of two alleged Libyan intelligence agents the United States and Britain have indicted for placing a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 as it flew over the Scottish village of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988. A total of 270 people perished, 11 of them on the ground.

Annan said Libya's U.N. ambassador, Abuzed Omar Dorda, whom he saw Monday, "was disturbed'' about reports that a 30-day ultimatum was issued.

The secretary-general said this was not true because the Security Council "did not offer an ultimatum.'' But he said he had discussed with the Council last Friday "a reasonable period for Libya to respond'' since his last letter to Tripoli a day before the council meeting.

Both the United States and Britain Friday said 30 days was a "reasonable'' time period for Tripoli to make a decision following six months of negotiations through the United Nations on a trial before a Scottish court sitting at Camp Zeist, a former military base in the Netherlands.

Diplomats, however, believe Libya will not hand over the two within 30 days, however, because of its anger at the informal deadline voiced by the United States and Britain.

Dorda last week accused Washington of having a "hidden agenda'' because U.N.-imposed sanctions would be suspended and not lifted when the surrender took place.

However, it is improbable that once the sanctions, which include bans on flights, arms and certain kinds of oil equipment, are suspended they could be reimposed. This would take a positive vote of nine council members and no veto from any of its five permanent members.

More Information on Sanctions Against Libya


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