Thaw in UK-Libya relations

The British government has asked Libya's foreign minister to visit London as it moves to put relations with Tripoli on a new footing.

    Straw has invited his Libyan counterpart to visit the UK

    Libya announced last month it was abandoning all plans

    to secretly develop weapons of mass destruction, including

    atomic weapons.

    Britain played a key diplomatic role to

    influence Tripoli behind the scenes.

    "I have invited Foreign Minister (Muhammad Abd al-Rahman)

    Chalgam to visit London soon to discuss a range of bilateral and

    international issues," Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told

    parliament on Monday.

    "This will form part of the process of implementing the

    decision by Libya to dismantle its weapons programmes," he said.

    Weapons programmes 

    Straw said nine months of hard work had been put in by US

    and British officials under strict secrecy. Libya had not

    developed a nuclear weapon, but was on its way to doing so, he

    said.

    "We have, I believe, established a relationship of trust

    which has enabled Libya first to renounce terrorism and now to

    renounce the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," he said.

    "We have, I believe, established a relationship of trust

    which has enabled Libya first to renounce terrorism and now to

    renounce the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction"

    Jack Straw,
    British foreign minister

     

    "Now we have corresponding responsibilities to enable Libya

    to come fully into the mainstream of the international

    community."

    However, the head of the international nuclear watchdog said last week that Libya had not been close to developing nuclear weapons.

     

    Muhammad al-Baradei said Libya had not actually produced any uranium and the country was still several years away from developing a nuclear weapon.

    Strained relations 

    Libya and Britian have had strained relations for years.

    Earlier this year, Libya accepted

    responsibility for the 1988 bombing

     of a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, which

    killed 270 people.

    Nor has the shooting of a British policewoman, Yvonne

    Fletcher - outside the Libyan embassy in London during a protest

    in 1984, been forgotten.

    The gunfire appeared to come from the

    embassy, but the murder remains unsolved.

    "The Libyans have... paid compensation to the family of WPC

    Fletcher but we continue our efforts to pursue her murderers,"

    Straw said.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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