Wednesday, November 19, 2008

President Bush calls Gadhafi

November 17, 2008

Washington - President George W Bush called Libya's Muammar Gaddafi to voice his satisfaction with a US$1,5-billion payment that Tripoli made to settle a long-standing dispute over terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a Pan Am jet over Scotland, the White House said on Monday.

In their conversation, Bush and Gaddafi "discussed that this agreement should help to bring a painful chapter in the history between our two countries closer to closure", White House spokesperson Gordon Johndroe said in a statement.

Libya's October 31 payment cleared the last hurdle in restoration of full normalisation of diplomatic relations between Washington and Tripoli.

The money will go into a $1,8-billion fund that will pay $1,5-billion in claims for the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1986 bombing of a German disco.

Another $300-million will go to Libyan victims of US airstrikes ordered in retaliation for the disco bombing.

David Welch, a State department diplomat who negotiated the agreement, said at the time that payments to US victims' families should start within days, and family groups hailed the news.

"While we will always mourn the loss of life as a result of past terrorist activities, the settlement agreement is an important step in repairing the relationship between Libya and the United States," said the statement that Johndroe released on Monday.

"Libya has taken important steps on the road to normalising its relations with the international community, beginning with its renunciation in 2003 of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction," the statement said.

"The United States will continue to work on the bilateral relationship with Libya, with the aim of establishing a dialogue that encompasses all subjects, including human rights reform and the fight against terrorism." - Sapa-AP

17 Nov. 2008 VOA News:

The White House said President George Bush has called Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to thank him for following through on a pledge that settles a long-standing dispute between the two countries over terrorist attacks in the 1980s.

A White House spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, Monday said the two leaders agreed that the deal should help bring "a painful chapter in the history" between the two countries "closer to closure."

On October 31, Libya paid $1.5 billion into a fund for families of the victims of Libyan-backed terrorist attacks, including the 1988 downing of a U.S. airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco.

The move cleared the final obstacle in full normalization of diplomatic relations between Washington and Tripoli. As part of
the deal, President Bush signed an executive order granting Libya immunity from any pending legal action in U.S. courts.

The White House said the United States will keep working on its relationship with Libya, with the goal of establishing a dialogue that "includes all subjects" -- including human rights, reform and the fight against terrorism.

After the Berlin disco bombing, the U.S. carried out retaliatory air strikes on Libya's capital and on the city of Benghazi in 1986. Washington is providing $300 million to a fund to compensate Libyan victims of those strikes.

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