A contracted ship containing 500 metric tons of equipment left Libya on Saturday and was on its way to an undisclosed site in the US, White House National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack said.

The shipment included all of Libya's known centrifuge parts and all equipment from its former uranium conversion facility. The White House said the ship was also carrying all of Libya's longer-range missiles, including five Scuds and all associated
equipment, including launchers. 

"It is coming to the US. We are not saying where or when for security reasons," McCormack told reporters after President George Bush met the president of Mexico at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. 

He said the US would begin discussions with Libyan officials on Sunday on retraining their weapons scientists. 

Abandoning weapons

Libya announced in December it would abandon any efforts to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and had allowed US inspectors to search its weapons sites and to remove sensitive equipment. 

In recognition of its efforts, the Bush administration announced last month it would allow US oil firms to begin negotiating to return. It also ended a restriction on Americans from using their US passports to visit the oil-rich nation. 

In addition, the administration decided to allow Libya to establish a diplomatic presence in Washington after its decision to base several US diplomats in Tripoli.