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Al-Qadhafi son: Israel is not a threat
Saif al-Islam, the son of Libya's leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, has denied recent news reports about his meeting a member of the Israeli Knesset on the sidelines of an international parliamentary conference in Athens.
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2004 04:41 GMT
Saif al-Islam denied reports about meeting an Israeli official
Saif al-Islam, the son of Libya's leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, has denied recent news reports about his meeting a member of the Israeli Knesset on the sidelines of an international parliamentary conference in Athens.

He has said, however, that Libya no longer considers Israel a security threat nor is his country in a confrontation with Israel.

In an exclusive interview with Aljazeera.net on Thursday, Saif al-Islam described the recent news reports as malicious rumours being spread by "some Arab countries" to spite Libya because of his country's latest political successes (in breaking its international isolation).

Saif al-Islam is al-Qaddafi's second eldest son and is said to be his intended heir and is reportedly been studying in the UK for the past two years.

Libya had recently announced its abandonment of all programmes of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its experts to inspect WMD suspected sites, after signing the special protocol of the international treaty governing nuclear inspections.

Many Western countries, including the United States and Britain welcomed the Libyan declarations. However, US President George Bush left in place American sanctions imposed earlier on Libya and asked the Arab country to take more steps.

Saif al-Islam said the elimination of US sanctions against his country would follow the official verification by international agencies, including the IAEA, that Libya was devoid of all weapons of mass destruction and that its related weapons programmes were under full international supervision.

The Libyan leader's son expected this to happen within two months. He also expressed his belief that the great "political successes" achieved by Libya had surprised some Arab countries, which then spread rumours that he met an Israeli Knesset member.

Hand shakes

Shalom:  Israel will talk with Libya
when they renounce ''terrorism''

Efraim Sneh, a Labour Party Knesset member, had recently confirmed he and another MP, Ilan Shalgi, met Saif al-Islam on the sideline on an international parliamentary conference in Athens last August.

Saif al-Islam denied having conducted an official meeting with any Israeli Knesset member. He added that after having talked in a meeting about the "white book" in which his father had proposed the creation of a single Palestinian-Israeli state, he shook hands with many of the attendees who might have included some "unofficial" Israelis who then asked him questions.

The ensuing discussions, Saif al-Islam continued, were a minor chat and were neither an attempt to set up secret contacts nor an effort to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Israel's foreign minister said on Thursday Israel would be ready for dialogue with Libya if Tripoli renounced "terrorism" and scrapped weapons of mass destruction, but declined to say if talks had already begun.

The minister, Silvan Shalom, told a news conference during a visit to Ethiopia, publicity would harm any secret initiative.

"All information on a process being conducted in secrecy be it right or misinformation could be harmful to Israeli efforts," he said.

Not a threat

Libya has recently announced
abandoning all WMD

Saif al-Islam has confirmed Libya no longer considers Israel as a threat to its security nor does it consider itself in a confrontation with Israel. He added after the Libyan decisions regarding its weapons programmes, his country considers the international community responsible for the security of Libya. Along those lines, he indicated that Palestinians had abandoned their past positions, trying to establish peace with Israel.

"The Palestinians are not pursuing military options and Yasir Arafat (himself) had said that he doesn't want a war," he said.

Asked whether Libyan Jews who emigrated to Israel would be allowed to return, Saif al-Islam said, "They were originally Libyans but whoever carries an Israeli passport is no longer considered a Libyan citizen and Libya does not allow Israeli passport holders to enter its borders."

US promises

"The United States had promised Libya increased and significant help in developing and enhancing our country's armed forces as well as developing our economy to transform it into a huge regional industrial base"

Saif al-Islam

Despite the continuation of sanctions on Libya by the US President, the relations between the two countries have witnessed an improvement, as was evident by recent positive statements by US officials about the regime of Colonel Qaddafi.

Saif al-Islam confirmed Libya's abandonment of weapons of mass destruction came as a result of nine months of efforts, which led to the "deal" that was considered a stunning "political achievement".

He added Libya achieved and would continue to reap many political, economic and security benefits because of the deal, and that his country had received explicit American promises.

"The United States had promised Libya increased and significant help in developing and enhancing our country's armed forces as well as developing our economy to transform it into a huge regional industrial base.

"Promises were also given to lift sanctions imposed on Libya to allow it to benefit from US technology and to permit Libyan students to attend US universities.

Saif al-Islam concluded by saying, "All of that had caused envy among some Arabs who chided us for not consulting with them and consequently spread rumours against us."

Source:
Aljazeera
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