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Deal Near on Lockerbie Payments

August 13, 2003|From Times Wire Services

UNITED NATIONS — The United States and Britain have reached an understanding with Libya under which Moammar Kadafi's government would renounce terrorism, accept responsibility for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, and compensate families of the 270 victims, U.N. diplomats and an attorney said Tuesday.

The diplomats, on condition of anonymity, said an agreement could be signed as early as today, paving the way for a U.N. Security Council resolution to lift sanctions against Libya.

The diplomats said the deal could still unravel if Libya failed to follow through on its commitments. Echoing that caution, one U.S. official, on condition of anonymity, said there was no final agreement yet. There was no official U.S. or British comment.

Barring a last-minute glitch, Libyan lawyers and attorneys for the families of those killed in the bombing will sign an agreement under which Libya will pay a total of $2.7 billion in compensation, said Mark Zaid, who is representing more than 50 relatives of victims.

The meeting will occur in Basel, Switzerland, the U.N. diplomats said.

The Security Council imposed an air and arms embargo and a ban on some oil equipment on Libya in 1992 and '93 to pressure Tripoli to hand over two Libyan suspects for trial.

The sanctions were suspended when Libya turned them over in April 1999. Intelligence agent Abdel Basset Ali Megrahi was subsequently convicted.

Libya now wants the sanctions formally lifted.

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