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.