- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

The United States said yesterday that any compensation agreement the families of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing victims reach with Libya would not be enough to lift sanctions against Tripoli.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell called the $2.7 billion offer, said to have been made by the Libyan government, a "step in the right direction" but added that it would not resolve "the entire issue."
The State Department also announced that the next round of talks with U.S., British and Libyan officials will take place in London next week. William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, will represent the United States.
The attorneys of the 270 families said Tuesday that Tripoli had agreed to pay $10 million for each family, on the condition that U.N. and U.S. sanctions be removed and Libya be taken off a U.S. list of terror sponsors.
Under the agreement, the money would be placed in an escrow account, according to the New York law firm Kreindler and Kreindler, which represents the families and which announced the proposal.
Forty percent of the money would be released when U.N. sanctions are lifted, 40 percent when U.S. commercial sanctions are eased and 20 percent when Libya is removed from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The Libyan state-run news agency denied yesterday that the offer was official, saying Libyan businessmen and legal experts met with the families of the 259 passengers on Pan Am Flight 103 and the 11 residents of the small Scottish town who were killed on the ground.
At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher said any settlement "would be a highly significant factor" in determining future U.S. policy toward Libya, but Washington would do its own "evaluation" of the amount that would be paid by Tripoli and decide whether it was satisfactory.
But Mr. Boucher pointed out that "paying adequate, appropriate compensation" is only one of four conditions Libya must meet before the U.N. sanctions can be lifted.
"The other requirements relate to acceptance of responsibility [for the bombing], disclosing information and renouncing terrorism," he said.
The United Nations suspended the sanctions regime, including an air-and-arms embargo and a ban on some oil equipment, in 1999 when Tripoli surrendered two suspects accused of the bombing for trial before a special Scottish court in the Netherlands.
Even if the U.N. sanctions are removed, that does not mean U.S. sanctions will be lifted, Mr. Boucher said. But he did not spell out what Libya must do to be removed from the State Department's list of terrorist nations.
No country has been taken off the list, except Iraq, which was temporarily removed in the 1980s.
The Bush administration is said to be split over the future of its ties with Moammar Gadhafi's regime. The Department of Justice is still displeased with Libya's limited cooperation during the trial in the Netherlands. The administration has also accused Libya of seeking weapons of mass destruction capabilities. The State Department has been more open to potential improvement of relations.


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