French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, told his Libyan counterpart Abd al-Rahman Chalgam on Wednesday that Paris would prevent the lifting of sanctions if it did not “receive compensation in the UTA affair”, said Muhammad al-Zouai on Thursday.

He was referring to the 1989 explosion over Niger of French airliner UTA that claimed 170 lives.

Libya has agreed to a $2.7 billion compensation agreement to the families of the Lockerbie victims. In exchange, UN and US sanctions will be lifted off the country and it will be removed from Washington’s list of states which allegedly support “terrorism”.

“The French threat will block the payment of the money,” said al-Zouai.

Under the deal Tripoli will pay each of the families $10 million in instalments, based on the lifting of UN and US embargos.