The money being deposited on Wednesday at the Swiss-based bank for international settlements will be used as compensation for the families of those killed in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing which claimed 270 lives, said the US State Department.

Spokesman Richard Boucher did not say how long the transfer would take but said the bank expected it to be finished by Friday at the latest.

“This is a very large sum of money, the transfer is not just one push of the button,” said Boucher.

Tripoli agreed last week to a compensation deal under which it will pay up to $10 million to each of the Lockerbie families, with the first payment of $4 million to be released once UN sanctions against it are lifted.

UN tensions

UN Council members discussed
timing of resolution vote

Meanwhile, the 15-member Security Council left it to Britain and France to thrash out the timing for the eventual lifting of sanctions imposed on Libya after Pan Am flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

A British-sponsored draft resolution calling for the embargo to be permanently lifted was one of the main items on the agenda at the closed-door Council meeting.

Syria, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council for August, said the discussion had little to do with the actual text of the resolution.

“The only issue that was debated is the timing of taking action on the draft resolution,” said Syrian Deputy Ambassador Faisal Mikdad.

Britain and its close ally the United States, which jointly brokered the Lockerbie deal, want the resolution to be put to a vote as soon as possible.

In a letter to the Security Council last week, Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing, paving the way for sanctions to be lifted.

London has proposed a resolution that would remove the sanctions, which could be voted on as soon as Libya finishes transferring the money.

Boucher said the United States, Britain and others were discussing the timing of the vote at UN headquarters in New York with an eye toward overcoming French resistance to the resolution.

France has threatened to block the lifting of the Libya sanctions unless Tripoli offers to boost the amount of compensation it is paying to the families of the 170 people killed in the 1989 bombing of French UTA airliner over Niger.

Washington has dismissed Paris’ demands as “extraneous” and hypocritical, saying the deal had already been made.