But US officials on Thursday said ending the remaining sanctions depended on Libya keeping its promises on abandoning weapons of mass destruction.

In a letter on 20 August, the families urged the United States to ease aviation sanctions, resolve the status of hundred of millions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets and drop Tripoli from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Each of the families of the 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, stand to receive $10 million if the sanctions are removed by 22 September. The payments could be cut to $5 million if the sanctions are not dropped.

Appeal

“Hundreds of family members living in 39 US states respectfully request that you take decisive action to implement all elements of our Libyan policy, including Libya’s payment of just compensation,” the group, which claims to represent more than 80% of the families, said in a letter to US President George Bush.

Under a complicated agreement, the families have already received $4 million after UN sanctions against Libya were removed last year. They could get $4 million more if all US commercial sanctions are removed.

In reward for Tripoli’s decision last December to abandon weapons of mass destruction and its early steps to comply, the US government in April eased most of these, but aviation restrictions remain and the Libyan assets are still frozen.

A further $2 million would be paid if Libya was dropped from the US state sponsors of terrorism list, something US officials say is unlikely before the 2 November presidential elections.

 "The easing and lifting of sanctions needs to be based on Libyan actions in implementing its December 19th commitments," said U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.